Solskjaer: Both sides have fantastic attacks
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted he would not be surprised to see lots of goals over the two legs of our UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.
On their last visit, the tie was decided by just one goal - an unforgettable strike from Paul Scholes - but this time around Ole has claimed he could see the ball finding the back of the net on a few more occasions, given the attacking resources available to both sides.
Highlights: United 1 Barcelona 0Video
“I think the two teams carry goal threats,”Ole told the media, in his pre-match press conference at Old Trafford on Tuesday afternoon.
“There are some fantastic attacking players on display, but again there are defenders there that are absolute quality,”he added.
Included in that group of supremely talented attacking players is Barça's Lionel Messi, a man the Reds know well from the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals as well as the 2008 semi-final.
While the Argentinian is widely considered one of the best players on the planet, Solskjaer insists the Reds have no specific system to nullify Messi's ability.
“What kind of plan can you have to stop one of the best players in the world?”the manager responded, when asked about combating the 31-year-old.
“It’s not like it’s just Messi against Manchester United. [Luis] Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Ivan] Rakitic, [Arturo] Vidal - there are so many good players [for Barcelona]. We cannot just focus on one player. We know we have to play against 11 of them.
“Suarez, Coutinho and Messi will keep our defenders on their toes so let’s see how we manage tomorrow.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity,”Ole added.“But this season we played against Juventus and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Paris Saint-Germain with [Kilian] Mbappe and Chelsea with [Eden] Hazard.“
Chris Smalling has managed to help prevent all three of those players scoring against United this season, but he has never previously met Messi on the pitch. The defender echoed the manager’s thoughts on Tuesday and stated he is looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the world’s most talented players.
“It’s something to relish I think,” said our no.12.
“This season we’ve been lucky enough to play Ronaldo and Mbappe [as well as Messi' and all of them are challenges. I definitely relish that and I think other players at this club relish it too. Let’s take it on.”
Ole himself knows a thing or two about high-scoring games against Barça and during our Treble-winning season, he was involved in two separate 3-3 draws in the group stages.
The Reds, of course, advanced on that occasion and Ole quipped that he would accept a similar scoreline this time around, as long as United qualify for the semi-finals.
“We drew 3-3 away and at home, so if we could get a 6-6 and a penalty shootout at the Nou Camp I think everyone would be happy with that,” said the boss.
Bring on Barcelona Gallery
Flick through 20 images from the Reds' pre-match workout at the Aon Training Complex.
“I wouldn’t say that these teams don’t score goals. Both of the teams have it in them to score goals. We know we have to defend well against them and we will.”
“Confidence is high,” he added.
“I think the players have given themselves and the supporters great confidence and belief that we can do this.
“I can feel the tension, definitely, and the excitement. In training today and yesterday you can see that there are players there wanting to play.
“I felt the mood before the PSG home game was a little bit different because we’d won so many games [before that], but I think we’ve learned from that PSG game.”
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.