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'It is a different story when you are out on the pitch with him'- Former Manchester United star reveals what it is like to face Lionel Messi and what Red Devils can do to win the match

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756   //    10 Apr 2019, 13:09 IST
FC Barcelona v  Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga
Barcelona and Manchester United will lock horns in the Champions League quarterfinals today

What's the story?

Former Manchester United star, Darren Fletcher, has claimed that facing Lionel Messi on the pitch is very different from watching him from the bench.

Fletcher also revealed how Manchester United can stop the Barcelona talisman in today's clash.

In case you didn't know...

Manchester United look like a completely different team after the arrival of Ole Gunner Solskjaer. Solskjaer has been the one to reform the playing style of the club and was announced as the permanent coach few weeks ago as a result of United's good performances.

But Solskjaer will face the toughest test in his managerial career when the Red Devils take on Barcelona. The Blaugrana, led by Lionel Messi look unstoppable right now and despite Solskjaer's good work, United and Barcelona's seasons are on completely different paths.

The Catalan giants are eyeing another historic treble while the Champions League remains the only trophy Solskjaer's United can lift this season.

There is no doubt over the fact that Lionel Messi is enjoying another historic season in his career. The 31-year-old leads the race for European Golden Shoe with 33 goals in the league and remains the joint top scorer of UEFA Champions League this campaign with 8 goals. The five time Ballon d'Or winner is also leading the assists charts this season.

The Argentine genius is head and shoulders above his competitors this term and played a huge role when Barcelona knocked out Manchester United in both 2009 and 2011 in the Champions League.

The heart of the matter

Fletcher analysed how Messi impacts a game and what United can do to win the game in Match of the Day analysis with BBC.

Fletcher wrote:

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"I only came up against Lionel Messi once, when I came on to help Manchester United see out our win over Barcelona in the 2008 Champions League semi-finals, but that was enough to find out how difficult it is to stop him."
"It looks easier when you are watching from the bench but it is a different story when you are out on the pitch with him. You only really realise just how quickly he moves after he has accelerated past you."

On what can Manchester United do to win the tie, the former United star wrote:

"It will be very difficult but we managed to beat Barca in 2008 by sitting deep, absorbing pressure and looking to hit them on the break. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of both teams now, that could work for United again."

What's next?

Manchester United will host Barcelona tonight in the Quarter Finals first leg.

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