published: 2019-04-15 10:58:42
Barcelona vs Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League! It’s time for SQUAWKA TACTICS!!!
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Statman Dave looks at how Man Utd can overcome Barcelona at Camp Nou in the Champions League quarter final!
Lead by the greatest player in the world in Lionel Messi, Barcelona were always going to be an incredibly difficult team for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United to overcome. However in their 1-0 victory last week, Ernesto Valverde’s reigning Spanish champions looked fairly average – with Ole Gunnar Solskjær devising a game plan that kept Lionel Messi and a stellar supporting cast of Philippe Coutinho & Luis Suarez relatively quiet but for that vital away goal.
Whilst Barcelona are a different team on home turf, Manchester United know that if they get their tactics right on the night that they have a genuine chance of going through to the semi-final.
As they did in the second leg against PSG, I’d expect Man Utd to make a change in their shape going into the away leg of this tie. Ole Gunnar Solskjær deployed a 3-5-2 at Old Trafford to mixed effect. The system limited Lionel Messi’s Influence significantly, with the Argentinian genius not managing a single shot from open play in 90 minutes, which is astounding given that he averages 5.4. The system that Solskjær used at home also brought the best out of that central midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred: the latter impressing with how often he was able to stop Barcelona’s counter-attacks and win possession, and the former looking astonishingly comfortable rolling the pressure.
However that system failed to do two key things on the night: stop Barcelona building up and create genuine chances for Man Utd. In order to do these things, Solskjær may opt for more of a 3-4-1-2 system in Spain, which would look like this: David De Gea; Victor Lindelöf, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly; Ashley Young, Scott McTominay, Fred, Diogo Dalot; Paul Pogba; Anthony Martial & Marcus Rashford.
This system would be more effective in pressing Barcelona’s back line and could force them to go long to what is an aerially subpar attack, something Man Utd have to make them do if they’re to have any hope of winning this tie. Manchester United of course have the unenviable task once again of trying to limit Lionel Messi’s influence on this game, and Victor Lindelöf is likely to be the man in that regard. The Swedish international has generally dealt with mobile and tricky forwards in his time at Man Utd so far, and is quite simply Manchester United’s best centre half, too. With Luke Shaw picking up that untimely suspension, expect Lindelöf to be the man tasked with limiting Lionel Messi here.
But what about creating chances? Manchester United didn’t have a single shot on target in the first leg, and need to rethink their attacking structure ahead of the away leg. Bringing in Anthony Martial for Romelu Lukaku here makes a lot of sense. Anthony Martial is at his best with the ball at his feet, and likes to come deep to pick up the ball before driving at his defender, which should give Manchester United a little bit more impetus in the final third. As well as this, the two goals that Paul Pogba scored against West Ham on the weekend will surely have an impact – the Frenchman has tended to score in bursts this season, and will be desperate to ensure people come away from the tie talking about him rather than Lionel Messi.
It’s an uphill task against the Spanish champions for Manchester United, but is anybody ruling out Ole Gunnar Solskjær pulling off an unlikely comeback at Camp Nou?
Watch the original Barcelona Video here