Champions League: Manchester United have to play with complete freedom to beat Barcelona
Manchester United host La Liga leaders FC Barcelona at Old Trafford on Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash. This game promises to be one of the biggest matches of the tournament, purely due to the number of stars who on display. If United are supposed to bank on the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and David de Gea, Barcelona have Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and a certain Argentinian named Lionel Messi in their squad.
Barcelona centre-half Gerard Pique will have a homecoming of sorts to the club where he spent his formative years. He made 12 appearances for Manchester United before heading back to the Camp Nou in 2008. Suarez too has memories of playing against United during his time at Liverpool and the Uruguayan striker will be keen to make a mark tonight.
Manchester United shocked all and sundry when they beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 with practically their second-string team at the Parc des Princes in the second leg of their Round of 16 clash, and there is no telling what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men can achieve if they set their minds to it. However, they need to play with complete freedom and express themselves positively if they are to put Barcelona's famed defence consisting of Pique, Alba, Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Roberto to test.
Since Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford in mid-December, there has been a visible shift in the mood in the United dressing room and that is mainly because of the positivity he has spread. Players like Lukaku, Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have revelled under his leadership. Manchester United will bank on all of them to put on a good showing and give the Old Trafford faithful something to cheer about.
Although Manchester United lack the firepower that Barcelona possess in their line-up, they can make up for it with heart, guts and application. Defenders Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw have been good all season and one can count on them to keep Messi and company at bay. Solskjaer's air of positivity has rubbed off all around and there is no doubt that tonight, United can press their case vehemently.