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Mascherano ready for United

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano claims he is eagerly anticipating Saturday's Champions League final and denies feeling more motivated because Manchester United lie in wait.

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Mascherano spent more than three years with United's bitter rivals Liverpool and the Argentina international was sent off at Old Trafford after a heated incident involving former Premier League referee Steve Bennett.

He insists it does not matter who Barca face in the Wembley spectacle, stating the fact that is it the European final will act as motivation enough.

"It's a Champions League final - it's special anyway,'' he said. "Playing against United doesn't make it more special for me, but I played against them lots of times and in general terms they are a very strong team.

"Their defence has two centre-backs, [Nemanja] Vidic and [Rio] Ferdinand, that offer many guarantees and have huge quality.

"In general they are a great team and the statistics show that: in the last four years they have got to three Champions League finals and won three leagues. They are one of the best teams in the world today.''

The 26-year-old is set to line up in Barcelona's defence, a position which he has had to adapt to this season due to injuries at Camp Nou. Mascherano will have to deal with the attacking threat of United and he knows who the danger men will be.

"You know that when you play a final, especially against a team like United, that you're playing against some of the best strikers in the world,'' he added. "(Wayne) Rooney and Chicharito have enormous quality.''

Mascherano arrived from Anfield last summer and took a while to win over the Barca faithful, but the Argentina international has impressed of late with some excellent performances in both defence and midfield.

He is keen to earn a place in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up and admits that he is lucky to be in with a shout of the first XI.

"It wouldn't be a disappointment not to play - not at all,'' he remarked. "With the great team-mates and great players there are in this team, I am honoured to be part it.

"I'm sure our coach will pick the best XI we have and I will try, as I have done throughout the season, to offer myself to the team and help my team-mates, be it on the pitch or off it.''

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