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By ESPN Staff
Apr 30, 2008

Ronaldo: It's a team game

Cristiano Ronaldo took another step towards becoming FIFA'S World Player of the Year but insisted the team was more important than any individual.

Manchester United's gifted winger proved he is prepared to put in a hard shift as well as they secured a place in the Champions League final in Moscow next month.

Although he failed to improve on his 38-goal tally, Ronaldo's gritty display in the 1-0 defeat of Barcelona only served to emphasise how far he has come this season.

He is now widely recognised as the best player in the world after finishing third behind Kaka and Lionel Messi last season.

Ronaldo, the PFA player of the Year, remains modest about his part in United's success as they chase a double of league and Champions League.

He said: 'My performance is not important, winning is and we're in the final. It was a great result.

'Of course I feel good. It has been a great season and I'm in a great moment. I've scored many goals. I have played well but so have the team - they have been fantastic.'

Ronaldo is blossoming at the top level - even in the face of change.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has surprised many pundits with the way he has set up his side in Europe, especially with the way United counter attack.

But his tactics have proved spot on as under-pressure Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard knows only too well.

Ferguson said: 'I have watched them a lot. If you try and meet them too early, they always open you up because they have the extra man in midfield.

'We didn't go hell for leather at them and defend too early. I think Frank Rijkaard would have liked that. It is something we have learned in Europe. We have enough experience in certain positions to wait for the counter-attack.

'The pace we have up front and the goalscoring threat we have allow us to do that.'

Ferguson's comments were endorsed by Ronaldo.

'It's very important to have experienced players but it's also equally important to have young players, ' said the Portugal international.

'Young players have a lot of power and run more, so you need that balance. You also want to win all the time when you play for Manchester United.

'I thought we played better than Barcelona. It was an intensive game but we created more chances and played the better football.

'The fans were absolutely fantastic. They did a great job singing all through the game - the motivation helped the players to get a great victory.'

Ronaldo is now putting thoughts of the final to the back of his mind with crucial Premier League games to come against West Ham on Saturday and Wigan a week on Sunday.

United are level on points with Chelsea - who face Newcastle on Monday - but have a superior goal difference.

Ronaldo said: 'The most important thing now is the league because the final is weeks away. We have work to do and it is important to keep our concentration.

'We have two games now to lift the Premier League, we have a good chance and if we win them both we are champions.'

Meanwhile Ferguson will monitor the fitness of Wayne Rooney (hip) and Nemanja Vidic (face) ahead of the West Ham match after they sat out the victory against Barcelona through injury.

Patrice Evra, however, is expected to be fit after suffering a knock last night.