UCL 2018-19, Manchester United vs Barcelona: 5 key factors that could decide the quarterfinal clash at Old Trafford
Three days from now, Barcelona will travel to the Theatre of Dreams for their quarterfinal clash against Manchester United. The Red Devils, despite being in a cold run of form, will have a much fresher squad who had a good week of rest and training. In contrast, Barcelona has almost wrapped up LaLiga, the hard way, against Atletico Madrid yesterday.
The last meeting between the two sides came in the finals of the competition back in 2011. Manchester United coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was one of those 92000 people who witnessed Barcelona's clash against Atletico Madrid.
Even though he might have thought he would find some weaknesses to exploit, Barcelona hasn't really revealed anything.
Let us take a look at five factors which could decide the quarterfinal clash between these heavyweights.
#5 Counterattack or all-out attack?
Your move Ole. You have two ways to go against Barcelona. One is to sit tight and hit them on the break. A high defensive line, high fullbacks, space on the wings, all of this looks really appealing to play on the counter. Don't be mistaken though.
Barcelona does this always and how many teams have been able to hit them on the counters? Does Ole have the pace to hit Barca on the counter? Yes. Marcus Rashford. But can Marcus Rashford finish chances in a 1v2 against Barcelona's defenders?
The second idea is to press the lives out of Barcelona. Don't let them knock the ball around, don't let the players think, just don't let them be comfortable. Does United have the quality to press Barcelona out of the game? We think no. Lyon was different. Their defensive midfielders were young and fast and mobile, but still, they were outplayed. Who thinks Nemanja Matic can press Busquets? Or do you think Fred has a chance against the press resistant Arthur?
In a realistic way, the first one seems a much sensible option. It is flattering to see all those Spanish teams do really well against Barcelona when they press them. But United doesn't have the personnel to do it. Neither can they face a heavy press from Barcelona if they look to play possession.