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May 5, 2011

Xavi claims United are favourites

Barcelona star Xavi has claimed Manchester United should be considered the favourites for the Champions League final at Wembley.

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Barca will meet United in London on May 28 in a rerun of the 2009 final after their respective victories over Real Madrid and Schalke.

United had been considered many bookies' favourites ahead of that meeting in Rome two years ago, but Barca survived a rocky opening to dominate the game and came out with a 2-0 victory. With Cristiano Ronaldo having since left for Madrid, many expect Barca to come out on top this time around, but Xavi has played down his side's hopes of success.

"Manchester United are the favourites," he said. "They're a great team that also likes to play football, and perhaps that's good for us."

Forward Pedro added: "I hope we can win but Manchester are also a great team."

There is a sense of destiny for both teams in this meeting as they each secured their first European Cup at the old Wembley.

Barca's first success came in 1992 under Johan Cruyff and, asked whether the current side would surpass his own, the Dutchman told Sport: "They are doing pretty well.

"The aim is to always try to assemble the best team possible, to play good football and to ensure that young people are proud to be associated with the Blaugrana. Comparing these things isn't really the best approach.

"When we won it, we were perfect. When Rijkaard took over, they were perfect again. Now under Guardiola's system, it also seems perfect for Barcelona. The most important thing is that Barcelona are proud and happy with what happens on the field."

On whether Barca would secure the Champions League at Wembley, he added: "It is a one-off match, so anything can happen."

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