Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has hit out at the Premiership domination of Europe this season.
"I think the level of English teams is very high," the Barcelona coach said. "If it was not for the fact that two of them [Liverpool and Arsenal] had to play each other in the last eight, they could very easily have had four teams in the last four. It is very difficult to beat them. They are very strong and very disciplined. They all get behind the ball quickly when they lose it and are very well organised. They play very good counter-attacking football. It is therefore very difficult to beat an English team."
"I think in some ways it is a pity because the English teams have a lot more to give on the pitch that the public would like to see," Rijkaard said, "but for them the result is all-important. It is strange to see English teams defending for their lives in Europe and trying to win games on the counter-attack. They can do a lot more than that.
"They have their own spirit and can play football on the front foot, but you don't see it in the Champions League. I see it on the TV in the Premier League, but not in European competitions. I think it started when the foreign coaches came. English football in Europe became more cautious. It is great for them to do so well, but it is also a pity. It is not the most beautiful way of football."
When informed of Rijkaard's comments, Sir Alex Ferguson issued a measured response.
"What he is saying is that we didn't go whoosh," Ferguson said, making a theatrical gesture with a hand. "We didn't go hell for leather all the time and attack too early. But I think he would have liked us to."