MANCHESTER UNITED’S new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave them one of their greatest nights in 1999 — although I don’t want to remember that infamous goal against my Bayern Munich.
He has the club in his DNA and changed the mood at Old Trafford.
AFP Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chance to further enhance his reputation as Manchester United’s man to lead them back to the big time
But if United are going to find a way to stop Lionel Messi, Solskjaer has to borrow from Jose Mourinho’s playbook.
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he’s asked ‘the gaffer’ Sir Alex Ferguson for advice ahead of Barcelona Champions League clash
NO MOUR SPACE
Mourinho was Inter boss when they beat Barcelona in the 2010 semi-finals.
They did it by getting players around Messi all the time, not giving him anywhere to go, covering him like a blanket.
It is possible to stop Messi. Teams do it when he plays for Argentina.
But the Barcelona Messi is different.
I reckon he’s involved in 80 per cent of their goals. If you try to man mark him with one player, forget it.
He will just find space and run the game.
So United have to be compact and whenever Messi gets the ball, then surround him.
Working to close him down together will give the team security.
That needs very high concentration levels and you can never completely control him.
He is always capable of something brilliant — but it gives you a chance.
BE BOLD AND BRAVE
United have to stop Messi but they cannot simply defend. They have to try to hurt Barcelona as well.
Barca will commit many players into the final third.
But that is United’s chance. When they win the ball, they have the power and pace to take advantage of Barca’s disorganisation on the counter-attack.
That also requires belief. If you are going to beat Barca, you must believe it is possible.
PAR FOR THE COURSE
Solskjaer pulled off one of the shocks of the season in coming from 2-0 down in the first leg to beat Paris Saint- Germain in the last 16 — and United must again be as disciplined as they were in Paris.
They cannot panic when Barca dominate possession.
Against PSG, they kept their shape and waited for the mistakes — then pounced. It will have to be the same tonight.
NOT A RASH CHOICE
I have followed Marcus Rashford since he made his debut three years ago.
He has everything the modern footballer needs.
Marcus is fast, strong, and shoots confidently. He can hurt Barca.
Barca are favourites but United can get something if they copy Mourinho.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 1, Barcelona 1.
Getty Images – Getty Marcus Rashford, right, could be the man to shine for Manchester United