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Fergie: Real too slow to rule Europe

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has all-but written off Real Madrid’s chances of winning this season’s Champions League.Ferguson believes Barcelona and the three other English teams involved in the competition are the biggest threats to his side’s hopes of retaining the trophy.

Madrid, according to the Red Devils manager, do not have enough pace in their team to worry the rest of Europe’s heavyweight sides.

When asked by French paper Le Journal du Dimanche earlier this month whether Madrid were among the favourites for the Champions League, Ferguson said: “No chance.

“Their game lacks pace. They have great players like (Gabriel) Heinze, (Fabio) Cannavaro, (Fernando) Gago, but they aren’t quick. There is (Arjen) Robben, the only one who can give them some rhythm, but he isn’t very brave.”

The three English teams – Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal – or Barcelona (are the favourites, along with United). The level of the Premier League is so elevated that it prepares you for games at the highest level.

“And Barcelona can count on a fantastic player – (Lionel) Messi.”

The interview was given on February 4 but, since then, Madrid – who take on Liverpool in the last 16 – have won three Primera Liga games in a row, scoring 11 goals in the process.

Indeed, they are on a nine-match winning run in the Spanish top flight and have drawn to within seven points of leaders Barca at the top of the table.