Raul: No favourite for Champions League final

Schalke 04 veteran forward Raul has praised the conventional approach of the two Champions League finalists - Manchester United and Barcelona - in the aftermath of his own side’s exit from the competition at the semi final stage.

The former Real Madrid and Spanish captain spoke of both teams deserving their berth in the final and refused to pick an outright victor.

“I don’t think there is a favourite. The two sides are both very well balanced and they will know each other very well, from playing each other in the final two years ago. They are both at the ultimate level,” he said.

“Barcelona are playing very well, that is clear, but Manchester United have proved against us and in the past that they can compete with whatever team they face. It will be a great final to watch."

Raul emphasised the importance of both managers in the success of their respective team and their godlike presence in the modern game.

“There is nothing I can tell the managers of United or Barcelona. They [Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola] are both great coaches and at Manchester, in particular, Ferguson is a legend. He will know exactly what his players have to do to win and they will work on a plan.”

Manchester United struggled to find their clinical nature in Gelsenkirchen for the first leg against Schalke until Ryan Giggs hit the back of the net in the second half. The Welsh winger stressed his side should be wary of all of Barcelona's players and not just individuals.

“He [Lionel Messi] is the best player in the world at the moment his goalscoring record is frightening,” Giggs explained.

“But he’s just one of many players we’ll have to look after and take care of.

“They have top players and if they all click it’s very difficult to beat a team like that, but it’s not impossible. We’ve got very good players who are at the top of their form at the moment. Just like they’ll be trying to hurt us, we’ll be trying to hurt them."

A survivor of the Ferguson teams that won the Champions League in 1999 and 2008, Giggs shared the sentiments of Raul in believing both finalists are evenly matched.

“I think we’re well matched in every department. Going into any top game, you need a gameplan and the players to go out and produce it. We’ll need to do that but ultimately once you’re out on the pitch you’ve got to have the confidence to play against what is a very good team.”

By Killian Woods