Barca see United improvement

24 May 2011 05:00

Barcelona's players believe Manchester United have improved since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo played his last game for United in the Champions League final in Rome - which Barca won 2-0 - before sealing an £80million switch to the Bernabeu, and since then Sir Alex Ferguson's men have claimed the Carling Cup and the Barclays Premier League title

They now face the Catalan giants in the final again at Wembley on Saturday, and Barcelona striker David Villa said: "Cristiano Ronaldo's departure has liberated them. Many great players come and go and that has allowed them to remain at the top for so long."

Midfielder Xavi added: "Their team isn't as direct as before; they like to have the ball. I don't know if that's because of Cristiano Ronaldo or not, but they move around as a unit now."

Wing-back Davi Alves reckons United's threat is harder to nullify in the absence of the Portuguese.

"This Manchester United team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo," he said.

"They have formed a more balanced group and they are stronger than they were two years ago."

Andres Iniesta also believes United have improved.

"They have grown as a team," said the midfielder. "They are dominating in England and now they are fighting for the Champions League.

"Cristiano Ronaldo has left, but apart from that I don't think they have made big changes and they are always competitive."

Source: PA