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City future bright with youth

Manchester City
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By ESPN Staff

Cruyff tips Barca to beat 'long ball' United

Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff believes his former side can pull Manchester United apart by keeping possession when the teams meet in the Champions League semi-final.

Cruyff, who now acts as an official adviser to club president Joan Laporta, denies there is any reason to be pessimistic, however, and says that Sir Alex Ferguson's men have as much to fear as anyone.

The Dutchman coached Barcelona to their first European Cup triumph back in 1992, and he believes he knows the way to beat the English champions.

He told El Periodico today: 'They run a lot. Their style of football, and that of all the English teams, gives the false sensation that they run more than anyone.

'That's because despite having a majority of foreigners in their squads they maintain the philosophy of long-ball football and sprinting 60 yards.

'That is how they exploit spaces in front of the midfield. If they played in the other team's half more often those spaces wouldn't exist.

'Despite recognising their effort, you can disarm an English side that presses and looks for the long ball by keeping possession and moving the ball around quickly.

'And if you know they will expend all their energy on closing down and chasing long balls, then you know where to beat them: by playing the ball horizontally.

'However badly Barca is doing we have at least the same chance of progressing to the final as United.

'They are very good, that's true. Of the three English teams in the semis, for me Manchester is the best.

'But I'm absolutely convinced that they're thinking exactly the same about Barca. That of all the semi-finalists, the Blaugranes are the strongest.'