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We can be like Barca: Fergie

NO Rooney, no Scholes, no Giggs? No problem. Alex Ferguson is missing three trump cards but he has still set a sky high standard for Manchester United: "Be like Barcelona".

Ferguson left his best players back at Old Trafford for tonight's Champions League tussle with Valencia but the Reds boss believes that he will still have enough quality to hand to maintain Manchester United's push to win "the best tournament".

"You don't want to lose your best players, that goes without saying. It was a big decision to leave Scholes behind. He's been in terrific form and now we'll have to adjust the team.

"The Champions League is the best tournament," he said. "It's the biggest challenge, because you're playing the best teams. You want to be classed alongside the likes of Barcelona, the great teams who've won it so many times.

"We have a tough game tomorrow, but that's the great thing about the European Cup -- you face the best teams in countries like Spain, Italy and Germany. That's what makes it a fantastic tournament.

"There's a big expectation for us to do well in Europe. Sometimes we've disappointed and sometimes you can be unlucky -- one bad moment in football and you can go out -- but it drives you on and hopefully this year we can do better.

"We expect a very difficult game. Valencia are top of the league. I watched them last Wednesday, and on TV on Sunday, and they're playing very well.

"Spain is obviously the hardest place for us to go. Spain has produced cup-winning teams for years and years. The standard of Spanish football has always been very good, so it will be a tough game. We're all aware of that.

"It was a disappointing result for us in the first game but we have five games left to qualify," he said before setting a cautious tone for the work ahead.

While missing Scholes' ability to turn a game with a pass, Ferguson will lean heavily on Darren Fletcher's ability to cover serious mileage against Valencia. Possession will be the key.

"Possession of the ball is important. If you give the ball away cheaply to Spanish sides then they will punish you, or at the least you won't see it again for a few minutes.

"It's important that we're solid and hard to beat. We need to keep the ball away from the home side, keep the home fans quiet and hit them on the counter-attack."

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOCUS:

SEE PAGES 82-87


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