Cole: United v Barcelona will be a special game
Manchester United legend Andy Cole believes anything is possible when we lock horns with Barcelona in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday night.
After eliminating Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 stage in dramatic fashion in the French capital last month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have another huge challenge ahead in the form of Barcelona.
Cole, who was part of the United team that won the Champions League at the Nou Camp in 1999, believes that anything can happen when the two giants renew acquaintances in the last eight of the competition.
“Anything’s possible," Coley told us in an exclusive interview. "We weren’t expected to get past PSG but we did that. But we know Barcelona are a very good and special team."
“They’ve got a little magician [Lionel Messi] in their team and, if he turns up, I’m not going to say ‘we need to mark him out of the game’ because you can’t. If he decides he’s going to play and if he doesn’t, he’ll still play, he’s that good. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Despite that, our former no.9 feels that playing the United way could be a big part in our chances of progression to the semi-finals.
“I think what we can do is play the way Manchester United should play," he said. "We did that when we won the Champions League in ’99, we played Barcelona twice and both legs ended 3-3, with both teams playing attacking football which we’re used to. We have to do exactly that.”
The former striker believes that going back to the Nou Camp for the second leg of the tie, 20 years on from that historic night on which we clinched an unprecedented Treble, will be a very special occasion.
“It’ll be really special," said Coley. "I think it’ll be special as well because it’ll be long overdue as a team, as a club, for all of us to catch up.
“The disappointing thing is that all of us might not be there. It’s something that happened 20 years ago and you look back and say ‘wow, we actually did do it’. It is nuts. Just to look back and think ‘wow what we achieved.’ The boys will be really looking forward to it."
The 47-year-old told us that facing Barcelona was something that was meant to be and he wasn't surprised that we ended up being drawn against the Catalan giants.
“The past four years have felt like 20 years, I’m telling you!" Coley said. "It’s so special. I’m not surprised we got Barcelona 20 years on. It’s one of those where it’s meant to be. You touched on the goal there and I look at that goal, it just gets better and better."
He still fondly remembers that goal against the Spanish side in the thrilling 3-3 draw against them at the Nou Camp, in the group stages of the 1998/99 Champions League campaign.
“I look and say to myself ‘wow’. I don’t think I really appreciated it as much when I was playing and then you look at it and go ‘wow, what a team goal.’ Forget what me and Yorkie did, what a team goal. Roy [Keane] fizzes it in, little dummy with Yorkie, that’s Manchester United at their best.”
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