UCL 2018-19, Manchester United vs Barcelona: 5 key factors that could decide the quarterfinal clash at Old Trafford
#4 Can David de Gea pull off a Jan Oblak?
We saw Jan Oblak against Barcelona yesterday and he was terrific. Eight big saves, five of them against Lionel Messi. Oblak might have won a point for Atleti on his own. The only time he really got away with it was against Alba 1v1.
Otherwise, he denied Coutinho from point-blank range, denied Messi from his favored zone five times. It might have looked like Messi was hitting straight at Oblak but it was Oblak getting right behind Messi's shot, every single time.
Eventually, it needed two brilliant pieces of play from Suarez and Messi to beat Oblak. Can de Gea deny them the same way? On one hand, you think that de Gea has done it some many times. He had saved United against Juventus in the group stages, against Tottenham in the league, against Arsenal last season, all alone. So why are we doubting de Gea?
Then, on the other hand, you realize that it will be Chris Smalling or Phil Jones starting alongside Lindelof, or maybe Bailly and Lindelof. Now, Atletico had Godin and Gimenez in the middle of the defense. Still, Barcelona put two goals past a 6ft tall man who was brilliant on the night.
Does someone really think that the defense can help de Gea enough to hold on for 90 minutes? 90 minutes against Luis Suarez who got his bullet on target from outside the box? 90 minutes against Philippe Coutinho who could curl it from any given angle? 90 minutes against Lionel Messi? That is expecting too much from your keeper but then again de Gea is used to this.