After the heroics against Paris Saint Germain in the last 16 second leg tie, Manchester United have a lot to think about ahead of their game against Barcelona. Here are some tactics Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would need to improve if he wants his team to progress ahead in the competition.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 15, 2019
1. Defensive Improvements
Like the second leg against Paris Saint Germain, United are going to see very little of the ball against Barcelona as well. Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling have to be at their very best form against the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Whenever Suarez has his back to the goal and he gets the ball, there should be a man to close him down.
The full-backs Luke Shaw and Ashley Young have to be one their toes every second of the game. Sergi Roberto and especially Jordi Alba are players who are defenders but play as wide wingers. To keep them out of the game there should be two players pressing down the full-backs whenever they have the ball.
2. Battle Of The Midfield
At this stage, Arthur Melo is the most influential midfielder for Barcelona. The only way to get the ball off him is by reading his movements in the Barcelona tie. Nothing else will work against this guy. The like’s of Jese Lingard and Namanja Matic have the ability to do so. Once this happens Rashford and Pogba’s speed will prove to be the game changer.
Man Utd and Barcelona are set to meet in the @ChampionsLeague for the 5th time since 1998-99.
CL winners in the last 4 seasons when United and Barca met:
1998-99 – Man Utd
2007-08 – Man Utd
2008-09 – Barcelona
2010-11 – Barcelona pic.twitter.com/5JyQV6k3C3
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 15, 2019
Holding the width in the midfield while Barcelona are attacking will become tough when its 60-70th min of the game. That’s where most of the games are lost when a team plays against Barcelona and the changes that will be made at that time will be very crucial. Making teams chase the ball for most part of the game is the tactic Barcelona will look to ponder upon and that’s the reason why those 3 substitutions will be important.
3. Game of the career for Pogba
Transition from defense to attack against Barcelona will be dependent upon Pogba. He should be aware of the players around him like Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic who have a very good ball recovering strategies. Rashford and Anthony Martial’s runs have to be monitored properly and one slight pass between the defense will be enough for Red Devils to score the goal against Barcelona.
Pogba: “Barcelona are a team i always watch, you can always learn as a midfielder, I like watching football. Their system, their culture, it can always help me. They’re a great team. One of the best in the world. It’s a match where I want to have fun.” #mufc [Eurosport]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) March 21, 2019
4. More Energy In Attack
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have the pace and agility to get away from the 2 defenders(Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet). There aren’t going to be many chances for the Manchester club against this very well drilled side, so even half a chance is should be taken by Romelu Lukaku and his fellow attacking partners. Once they are through on goal, the main thing is to beat Marc Andre Ter Stegen. The Barcelona keeper has been very good in keeping away long range shots and winning the 1v1. So this will also be a test for United against the La Liga leaders.
5. David De Gea’s Influence between the Sticks
The Manchester United keeper is going to be bombarded with lots and lots of shoots. He has to be alert and reflexive against a team like Barcelona. Long rangers from Messi have to be looked out for by the keeper and they have to be stopped if they want to win this game. The Spanish keeper has been in top form recently but against a better side like Barcelona is where you have to show your real worth.
"We want these games against the biggest clubs and the biggest teams," says Ole. "We had the final against them in 2009 and 2011 and the semi-final in 2008 when Scholesy scored, it’s these games our fans and this club crave. We are looking forward to this one." #MUFC #UCLdraw
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 15, 2019
All these things kept in mind, this game is going to be a very fascinating game to watch but who will come out on top only future will tell. After the comeback against Paris, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have a growing belief that they can put the Champions League favorite’s to the sword.