Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was content with the goalless home draw against Manchester United but refused to be drawn on who is now favourite to reach the final in Moscow.
saying his FC Barcelona team still “have a great chance” of reaching a second UEFA Champions League showpiece in three years. His counterpart, Sir Alex Ferguson, was satisfied with the outcome but was disappointed with the way his side built attacks and their lack of possession.
“It was a very even match. United were very well organised in defence and put together some good counterattacks,” said Rijkaard. “A victory is what we wanted obviously but the semi-final is still open. We’re confident for the Old Trafford game.
“The team was good tonight and people are confident we can do it. It’s not a good result but we hope to score there, although this second leg won’t be easy for them either. The atmosphere, tension and crowd were fantastic tonight but I don’t think this was our best match of the season. It was a high-level game and the crowd responded well.
“Some of the players on the pitch hadn’t played in a while; Deco made a big effort, we still have to keep an eye on [Lionel] Messi and [Thierry] Henry has just recovered from a bout of fever.
“I don’t think about who are favourites – we do have a great chance so it’ll be a great match against a great team. We have to carry on like this. United were quite defensive and the important thing is to carry on creating chances to score. I wasn’t surprised by United being defensive and waiting to counterattack.
“The penalty was a big moment but fortunately Cristiano Ronaldo missed. It was a key point in the match but we worked hard. We will do all we can to reach the final.”
Manchesetr United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he was disapointed with his side’s overall performance but happy to leave Camp Nou with a draw.
“Barcelona had a lot of possession but have had that in other games, especially at home,” said the United boss. “We’re satisfied to leave with a clean sheet but we’re a bit disappointed at the transition from defence to attack so I’m more concerned about our low ball possession.
“I don’t think the penalty will be a key in the semi-finals. If we draw or lose we’re out but I rely on our record at Old Trafford and the atmosphere at home, so that match will be different.
“The crowd at the Camp Nou was happy at the team’s performance and there were no white hankies. I hope our crowd will be just as happy at Old Trafford. Barcelona have fantastic players and you know it’s going to be a serious match but they didn’t get any clear chances to score.
United were forced to reshuffle their defence after Nemanja Vidic suffered a stomach upset on the eve of the match.
“[Nemanja] Vidi? has stomach pains and as our hotel was near to a hospital we took him there,” added Ferguson. “They think he has a stomach infection and he has a slight chance of playing on Saturday. We know we had to change the defence and I opted for Wes Brown rather than Gerard Piqué because I didn’t think it was fair on the boy to put him under the pressure of playing against his former club at the Camp Nou.
“We have to look at the positive side and the draw here isn’t bad at all. I don’t think we were fast or direct enough and we lost the ball too much tonight. We usually play better but we had to defend more and I thought Ronaldo could win the match himself but we didn’t back him enough, despite most of our chances coming from him. We will definitely attack more in the second leg.