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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vidic: Man Utd needs improvement on defense

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Unless Manchester United shores up its leaky defense against Arsenal, center back Nemanja Vidic fears the club may be denied a second successive Champions League final.

The two-time European champions host their English rival in the first leg of their semifinal Wednesday, four days after a dramatic 5-2 victory over Tottenham when they overturned a 2-0 deficit in the second half.

Before that match, United's back four had looked to have regained its durability by keeping three straight clean sheets after leaking 12 goals in five matches.

Vidic said that slump came as a result of Alex Ferguson's need to rotate the squad amid a tough match schedule.

"In the first half (against Tottenham) we didn't defend very well," Vidic said. "In the second half we came back much stronger, and that is how we need to play against Arsenal and any team we play against. It just happens — sometimes things go wrong.

"We will try to fix the problems we have had in the last games, but we need to remember as well that we have changed many players. We have not played with a consistent team at the back, even in the middle or up front. We have so many games that sometimes you have to change the team and sometimes you need time to adapt."

Heynckes speaks out

MUNICH (AP) Veteran coach Jupp Heynckes said Tuesday the main objective during his short spell in charge of Bayern Munich is to secure a spot in next season's Champions League.

Heynckes was presented as interim coach a day after Bayern fired Juergen Klinsmann, whose 10-month stay at the defending Bundesliga champion ended following a slump in form.

Club officials brought in the 63-year-old Heynckes, who coached Bayern to two Bundesliga titles nearly two decades ago, in an attempt to give a new push to its faltering challenge in the final five matches of this season.

Bayern is third in the league standings, three points behind leader Wolfsburg. Only the top two qualify automatically for the Champions League, while the third-place team goes into the qualifying round.

"Our aim must be to achieve direct qualification for the Champions League," Heynckes told reporters.

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