Van der Sar makes case for defence

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Edwin van der Sar is convinced Manchester United are better prepared than his former club Ajax were to successfully defend their Champions League crown.

United are bidding to become the first club to achieve such a feat since the competition adopted its new format in 1992 and tackle Arsenal in an all-English semi-final at Old Trafford on Wednesday as odds-on favourites to reach Rome on May 27.

"This side is much better equipped to retain the trophy than Ajax were," he said.

"Then we had loads of injuries and a lot of young guys had to fill gaps left by older and more experienced players," he added.

Four years after the tournament's relaunch, Van der Sar was part of an Ajax side that became one of three on the trot to fall at the final hurdle, beaten on penalties by Juventus 12 months after AC Milan had been overcome.

But the veteran keeper does not feel the comparison between his young Dutch team-mates and Sir Alex Ferguson's present-day Red Devils is valid.

"It is hard to say whether we have a bigger chance to win the trophy but we are certainly better equipped to," he said.

The strength in depth available to Ferguson means John O'Shea should start at right-back with Wes Brown not considered fit enough to replace Gary Neville and Rafael probably not experienced enough.

And it would be no massive surprise, either, should Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez find themselves on the bench despite Saturday's heroics against Tottenham, especially if Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs are required to defend the flanks, as they were in Porto in the last round.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Ryan Giggs
European News
Dimitar Berbatov
John O'Shea
Edwin Van der Sar
Carlos Tevez
Wes Brown
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Gary Neville

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