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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Fergie: Final defeat inspires us to suceed

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes the memory of losing last year's Champions League final will act as a bigger motivation for his players than winning the trophy in 2008.

• Champions League draw

United are aiming to become only the seventh team to reach three European Cup finals on the trot, a feat last achieved by Juventus in the mid-1990s.

AC Milan, who knocked Ferguson's side out of the Champions League in the 2005 last-16 and 2007 semi-finals, stand in United's way - with David Beckham set to make an emotional return to the lcub he left for Real Madrid in 2003.

Defeat to Barcelona in the 2009 final in Rome is still fresh in Ferguson's mind and he insists the bitter memories of that loss will act as perfect motivation for his squad to succeed this year.

"Winning was great in Moscow but somehow losing in Rome was even better for us,'' the United boss said. "You realise what a big occasion it is because you are not part of the celebrations.

"When you are actually involved it tends to go over your head because it happens so quickly and everyone is in such a joyous mood. But when you lose the impact is far greater. It was a let-down for everyone.''

That was the experience Ferguson and his players went through on an otherwise perfect night at the Stadio Olimpico.

It is one he would he would prefer not to repeat at Real Madrid's magnificent Bernabeu Stadium on May 22, although he will be straining every sinew to try to play a part.

"The hurt doesn't last long. These guys are professional players and they get on with their lives,'' said Ferguson. "But the one thing that does resonate strongly is the occasion.

"Rome was a fantastic occasion. It was a beautiful night, the stadium had been revamped and the colour inside it was fantastic. It was a great venue for a final. Madrid is similar because that is a great venue too. Hopefully we will be there.''

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