Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could use Sir Alex Ferguson advice to stop Lionel Messi | Football | Sport


The Red Devils host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash on Wednesday evening.

It’s the first time Lionel Messi and co will be facing Manchester United since their 3-1 win in the final in 2011.

Messi netted in the Wembley showdown, as Barcelona – managed by Pep Guardiola – ran riot in London.

And Ferguson revealed years after their Champions League heartache of how he’d try to stop Messi if they were given the opportunity.

“You need centre-backs who are prepared to drop right on top of Messi and not worry about what is happening behind them,” Ferguson wrote in his autobiography.

“He will drift away to the side. That’s fine. He’s less of a threat on the side than he is through the centre.

“After the inquest I told myself: ‘When we play Barcelona next time in a Champions League final, I would have [Phil] Jones and [Chris] Smalling, or Smalling and [Jonny] Evans, right on top of Messi’.

“I wasn’t going to let him torture us again.”

Messi has been in sensational form at Barcelona this season, with the Argentina international netting 43 goals in all competitions for the Spanish giants.

The 31-year-old has also registered 15 assists under Ernesto Valverde this time out.

United ace Smalling has been vocal ahead of their showdown with Barcelona, with the centre-back insisting they’re ready for Messi.

“It’s something to relish I think,” he said.

“This season, we have been lucky enough to face [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Kylian] Mbappe and they are all challenges that I definitely relish and I think players at this club relish.

“I say bring it on.”

United boss Solskjaer added: “What kind of plan can you have to stop one of the best players in the world?

“As Chris says, we are looking forward to it, we relish the opportunity but this season, we have played against Juventus with Ronaldo, PSG with Mbappe, we’ve had Chelsea and [Eden] Hazard.

“[Messi] is a fantastic player. And he will go down in history as one of the best individual players ever. I have to say – he will be difficult to stop but it’s never impossible.

“It’s not like it is Messi against Manchester United. [Luis] Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Ivan] Rakitic, [Arturo] Vidal, there are so many players we cannot just focus on one player. We know we have to play against 11 of them.”

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