Manchester United v Barcelona Champions League match preview

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United needs to close down Messi and limit his time on the ball. The Evening Standard

United’s players will be well rested with 8 days between the Wolves game and Wednesday’s match. Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera missed the game against Wolves and we hope that they will be fit. Matteo Darmian, Eric Bailly and Alexis Sanchez were ruled out of the Wolves game also. Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof returned for that match. Luke Shaw and Ashley Young will be available.

As for Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele may be available for selection. The young forward missed the last four La Liga games with a hamstring injury. Brazilian midfielder Rafinha will sit out this match because of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee. Lionel Messi has been nursing an injury that caused him to miss Argentina’s recent friendlies.

The way how I think United should approach this game is that from the time we kick-off that we try to keep the ball and control possession as much as we can. We need to attack them immediately and put them under pressure. United and the fans need to create an intimidating atmosphere from the start. We have to be wary of their counter-attacks and of course Messi. United don’t want to concede many corners and especially free-kicks close to the goal where Messi is very dangerous. Paul Pogba needs to get forward as much as possible and take control of the game in midfield.

Our team must be confident, and there should be very few mistakes defensively. The midfield needs to stifle the play of Rakitic and Busquets. The Red Devils must close them down and try to intercept as many passes as we can from them. We can’t let them feed Messi and Suarez with the ball consistently. Organization and compactness in defense and midfield throughout the match is paramount. Let’s make Barcelona work extra hard for their goals.

We can’t stop Messi, but we can quickly close him down and put a body on him. As soon as he gets the ball we may have to immediately put two players around him and try to dispossess him of the ball. Especially if we do that higher up the pitch in their half that would be great. He shouldn’t be allowed to turn constantly with the ball so that he can survey the field and pick his passes and run at our defense. Then most importantly we need to take our chances and try to put the game out of their reach early.

What are your opinions on how we should approach this game?

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