Manchester United must be streetwise against Barcelona, says Solskjær

first_imgSolskjær reiterated the club’s stance that Pogba will not be leaving in the summer, reports having again linked him with Real Madrid: “He’s a Man United player. He’s one of our big performers and on a big stage. He knows the game against PSG was not his greatest moment. So he is only focused on playing well against Barcelona and I cannot see him not playing for Man United next season either.”Ernesto Valverde’s team arrive at Old Trafford for Wednesday night’s first leg as favourites to progress to the last four yet the United defender Chris Smalling was bullish regarding the prospect of marking Lionel Messi, the five-times Ballon d’Or winner.“It’s something to relish, I think,” the centre-back said. “This season I’ve been lucky enough to face Cristiano Ronaldo [for Juventus], Kylian Mbappé [PSG] and they’re all challenges I definitely relish and players at this club relish. I say bring it on.”Solskjær acknowledged Messi’s threat but stated it is not only him United should be wary of: “What kind of plan can you have to stop one of the best players in the world? He is a fantastic player and he’ll go down in history as one of the best individual players ever. He’ll be difficult to stop but it’s never impossible.“We can’t just focus on him, we know we have to play 11 against 11. As Chris says, we relish the opportunity, but this season we’ve played against Juventus and Ronaldo, PSG with Mbappé. We’ve had Chelsea and Hazard [in the league]. Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and Messi will keep our defenders on their toes, so let’s see how we manage.” Share on Facebook Read more The manager also has to contemplate the fact that Ashley Young, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw will miss the return leg if they are booked but used the example of Roy Keane in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus to inspire them. The Irishman turned in a man-of-the-match display despite being shown a yellow card that excluded him from the final. “Roy Keane was the best example of how to react if you’re going to be out of the next game,” Solskjær said. “But then again we know we can’t give fouls away. How many goals has Messi scored from free-kicks just outside the box? Of course we’ve got to be careful.”Solskjær was a United player when Sir Alex Ferguson’s team drew 3-3 with Barça in both the home away and group games of the 1998-99 competition. “If we get an aggregate score of 6-6 and a penalty shootout at the Nou Camp, I think everyone will be happy,” Solskjær said. The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. The Joy of Six: Barcelona v Manchester United news The United manager hopes Marcus Rashford will not have an adverse reaction to his ankle after training with the squad on Tuesday morning and awaits fitness tests on Matic and Ander Herrera. The former has more chance of being available but Solskjær confirmed Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly are definitely out.Gerard Piqué, the former United defender making a first playing return to Old Trafford, pointed to the PSG result. “The tie is a great example,” he said. “I watched both games and here PSG was better in the first half, in the second half they scored and they could have scored some more goals.“But you cannot leave Manchester United alive. If you can beat them scoring a lot of goals – you have to do it [as] they have a great team and great history and have shown in the second leg in Paris that even though they played with a lot of young lads from the academy they qualified in the last minute. It’s a great example for us, we have to be very concentrated from the first minute to last minute of the tie and we have to play at our best to qualify.”Pique brushed off Solskjaer’s claim regarding Barcelona’s penchant for the darker arts. “Ah no, I think that referees are different in the Premier League than in the Champions League, everyone knows that,” the 32-year-old said. “In the Premier League they let players play more, let contact happen, here in the Champions League they are more maybe as we know in Spain [stricter]. He just said it because he wants their players to be ready for that and this can happen.”After Smalling was bullish about facing Messi, Valverde struck a relaxed note about anything United might try to stymie him.“Messi is the player he is,” the head coach said. “I understand that all managers and players are looking for a way to stop him. Sometimes there are ways to try and neutralise certain players, tomorrow we’ll see if it’s possible. We expect a lot of things from Leo and he normally delivers.” Ole Gunnar Solskjær has warned Manchester United they will need to be “streetwise” to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League, with the manager hoping lessons will be learned from their first-leg defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16. Reuse this content Share via Email Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Topics Read more Barcelona Lionel Messi Twitter Manchester United priced Barcelona out of Pogba move, says club president Manchester United Champions League Chris Smalling (third right) is looking forward to pitting himself against Lionel Messi. Photograph: Ian Hodgson/PA Pinterest Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger That result was a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford and featured Paul Pogba being sent off in the 89th minute, meaning he was suspended for the return leg. United overturned the defeat with a memorable 3-1 win in Paris to progress on away goals but Solskjær wants his side to be smarter against Barça.Reflecting on a time when United had 10 victories from his opening 11 games in charge, Solskjær said: “Some of these players will have some tricks up their sleeves, streetwise players. We’ve learned from that PSG game – the mood was a little bit different because they had won so many games.“But we’ve learned from that PSG game. Players have talked about it – how we got dragged into making fouls, how European football is. You’ve got to be more patient in tackles. I can feel the tension, excitement. At training today and yesterday, you can see players wanting to play.”The Norwegian has backed Pogba, who was wanted by Barcelona when United signed him in 2016, to have an important role in this quarter-final tie. Solskjær said: “It’s not about one player, everyone has to perform at their best level and at Paul’s best he can run a game like this and that’s what you expect from him: that he really puts his stamp on a game like this. Paul’s job is to be the creator, and when we win the ball that he drives forward, so I expect him to perform.”last_img

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