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Lionel Messi news: How Sir Alex Ferguson planned to stop the Argentine talisman when his Manchester United faced Barcelona

ANALYST
News
1.27K   //    10 Apr 2019, 20:47 IST
FC Barcelona v  Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga
Lionel Messi is set to face Manchester United in the Champions League tonight

What's the story?

Manchester United will take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinals encounters in a few hours and Sir Alex Ferguson's plan to stop the Argentine talisman when the last time these two teams met resurfaced, which was taken from an extract from his autobiography.

In case you didn't know...

Despite the good work done by Ole Gunner Solskjaer since his arrival, the Red Devils only have the UEFA Champions League to play for. Whereas, the Catalan giants, led by Lionel Messi are on their way to another historic treble.

Messi has been on song throughout the season as he is the leading goalscorer in European top five leagues with 43 goals in all competitions. The five time Ballon d'Or winner is also the player to lead the race for the Golden Shoe with 33 league games and Messi also leads the assist charts.

The 31-year-old Argentine remains the highest scorer against English teams in the Champions League but failed to score in the quarterfinal stage for the last few seasons.

Despite the adversities, Smalling remains confident ahead of the tie.

Speaking in a press conference, Smalling said:

“It’s something to relish, I think,” the centre-back said.
“This season I’ve been lucky enough to face [Cristiano] Ronaldo [for Juventus], [Kylian] Mbappé [PSG] and they’re all challenges I think I definitely relish and I think players at this club relish. I say bring it on.”

The heart of the matter

Mirror quotes excerpts from the former Manchester United's manager autobiography where he describe his plans to stop the Argentine genius.

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"You need centre-backs who are prepared to drop right on top of Messi and not worry about what is happening behind them," the Ferguson wrote in his 2013 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 Jones and Smalling, or Smalling and Evans, right on top of Messi. I wasn’t going to let him torture us again."

What's next?

Manchester United will host Barcelona at Old Trafford tonight. It remains to be seen if Solksjaer will use this strategy against the Barca forward.

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