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May 4, 2011

Pep expects different Man Utd test

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola expects to face a very different Manchester United side in this season's Champions League final to the one they beat in 2009.

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United have a 2-0 lead from their semi-final first leg clash in Schalke and Guardiola, whose Barcelona beat arch-rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate on Tuesday, expects to meet the Premier League side in European football's showpiece at Wembley later this month.

United play the second leg of their clash with Bundesliga side Schalke at Old Trafford on Wednesday night and the Barcelona coach will be watching.

"We will wait and see who will be our opponent and we'll prepare accordingly," Guardiola said. "But if it's Manchester United then it will be a different game to the final in 2009 - they are a different team with different strikers."

Guardiola's side survived a nervous opening to outclass United in Rome two years ago, but the Barca coach believes that match - a 2-0 victory for the Catalans - was decided by a number of factors.

"A match is decided by many uncontrollable things," he said. "We were lucky in the beginning of that game and we were a bit better than them after that, but if we meet again it will be a different match.

"We will have to try and find their weaknesses, have the ball and attack."

And Guardiola says he will not be underestimating the Premier League leaders or coach Sir Alex Ferguson.

"They are a great team and he is one of the best in the game - he has shown he can repeat and recreate, and win and win and win in finals."

In the meantime, Guardiola declared himself happy with his side's aggregate win over their fierce rivals Madrid.

"We are very satisfied with what he have achieved," he said. "We knocked out a great team."

Meanwhile, Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka claimed that refereeing decisions had condemned his team to defeat in the semi-final.

"Mourinho was right," the Portuguese's number two said, in reference to a disallowed goal for Gonzalo Higuain early in the second half. "He said that it would be impossible for us to go through.

"This match proved that it was impossible and 100 million people saw it - there is nothing more to add."

Cristiano Ronaldo did have something to add, however. "Next year they might as well give the cup directly to Barcelona," said the forward, a losing finalist to Barca in 2009. It was Mission Impossible 4."

Madrid keeper Iker Casillas was equally angry. "It has happened again - just like it always does," he said, alluding to Pepe's controversial sending-off in the first leg. "We feel tricked and knocked down by the officials."

Play had already been stopped by the time Higuain netted after Javier Mascherano had been inadvertently tripped by a floored Ronaldo. And Barca full-back Dani Alves dismissed Madrid's complaints as sour grapes.

"Madrid are always trying to draw attention away from the most important thing of all - the football," he said.

Barca club president Sandro Rosell, meanwhile, believes his side can take the moral high ground following the defensive displays and manipulation tactics shown by Madrid.

"The victory is a triumph for football and the values of Barca," he said. "This makes the history of Barcelona even greater and now we're going back to Wembley, which has a special significance for us."

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