Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Barcelona are team to beat in Champions League, says Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has claimed the current Barcelona side will go down as one of the greatest teams of all time.

Manchester United have had two epic duels with the Catalans, emerging triumphant in the 2008 Champions League semi-final when Paul Scholes scored the only goal over two legs, but suffering heartache in Rome a year later when they were totally outclassed by Lionel Messi and company.

And, as thoughts begin to turn towards the resumption of this season's competition, Rooney has already identified Barcelona as the team to beat if United are to be crowned European champions for a fourth time.

“They are the team to beat,” said Rooney. “They are a fantastic team and people will remember what this Barcelona side have done for a long time to come, like the great Real Madrid and Manchester United teams.

“Their football is brilliant to watch and they win games playing that way, which is the main thing.

“Barcelona stand out for me. You can safely say if you beat Barcelona you have a good chance of winning the competition.”

Rooney was part of the United side that followed up that Barcelona victory by overcoming Chelsea in an all-Premier League final in Moscow.

He is itching to experience the same emotions this season, not least because the final will be played at Wembley.

It would also be a fitting way to end a turbulent season that has included a well-publicised contract wrangle.

“I know I made the right decision to stay. It has been a tough time but I am looking forward to helping the team win trophies.”

United tackle Marseille in the first knock-out round and travel to the Stade Velodrome for the first leg on February 23.

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