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Alex Ferguson rallies Manchester United for Real Madrid showdown

FC Barcelona's Jordi Alba, right, in action with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal, left, during a semifinal, first leg, Copa del Rey soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

FC Barcelona's Jordi Alba, right, in action with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal, left, during a semifinal, first leg, Copa del Rey soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted his new Manchester United side face their “acid test” in the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday.

Two seasons ago, in their third Champions League final in four years, United were comprehensively swept aside by Barcelona.

Many of the faces remain - only Edwin van der Sar and Fabio of the team that started that 3-1 defeat have left Old Trafford, but new blood has been injected in the form of David de Gea, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young.

Most importantly of all, Robin van Persie has arrived to give United the additional firepower required to compete at the highest level.

And against Real Madrid, Ferguson will find out if they are the real deal.

“Our team is capable of winning the Champions League,” said Ferguson. “There is a great spirit about them.

“People keep saying we’re not as good as past United teams but then sometimes we get foggy impressions about the past. I do so myself at times.

“But the reality is this team doesn’t know when it is beaten, which is a great quality.

“I have no doubt in my mind the acid test is tomorrow.

“It’s unfortunate we’re meeting this early. I wish it had been at Wembley.

“But we can’t think of failing. We have to get through if we are to win this trophy.”

The presence of Van Persie ensures Madrid will spend as much time fretting about what their opponents can do as United must on how they intend to stop old-boy Cristiano Ronaldo.

Van Persie scored his 23rd goal of a stellar debut campaign against Everton on Sunday, and whilst doubt may persist over the precise make-up of Ferguson’s team, there is none over the Dutchman’s presence.

“Robin is approaching the level of Ronaldo and Messi,” said Ferguson.

“His arrival at our place has been nothing but sensational.

“He has been a breath of fresh air to the young players and also a good coach to them.

“Twenty-three goals tells you everything.”

 

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