Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not be piecing together a special plan to stop Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi in the Champions League as “one of the best in
The Red Devils are fully aware of the threat a five-time Ballon d’Or winner is set to pose to them in a heavyweight quarter-final clash.
A first meeting with the mercurial Argentine is set to be taken in at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the hosts hoping that his influence on proceedings can be kept to a minimum.
Solskjaer will not be focusing too much of his attention on Messi, though, as such an approach would be pointless with Barcelona boasting so many other match-winners in their squad.
“What kind of plan can you have to stop one of the best in the world?” said United’s Norwegian boss.
“We are looking forward to it. This season we played against [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Kylian] Mbappe and had [Eden] Hazard for Chelsea and [Luis] Suarez and [Philippe] Coutinho and Messi will keep our defenders on their toes, let’s see how we manage.”
Pressed further on whether Messi can be considered unstoppable, Solskjaer said: “He’s a fantastic player, he will go down in history as one of best ever.
“He will be difficult to stop but never impossible.
“It’s not like it’s Messi against Man United, there is Suarez, Coutinho,[Arturo] Vidal, so many good players. We can’t focus on one, we have to focus on 11 of them.”
United are hoping that, as a collective, they can shackle Barcelona and collect a positive result which keeps them in the hunt for a semi-final berth.
“The Champions League throws up so many strange results,” said Solskjaer.
“It’s not going to be decided until we play 90 minutes in Camp Nou, we just have to make sure we perform to our best and have a result to take over to Barcelona.”
United have mixed memories from past meetings with Barcelona, with the Liga giants faced en route to
Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm for all of those contests and Solskjaer has briefly sounded out his former boss for some words of advice heading towards another eagerly-anticipated continental encounter.
He added: “I think all my experience, and over the years with Barcelona, admiring the team, you always look at what you can do against them.
“Of course I have discussed Barcelona with the gaffer [Ferguson] since the draw was made. But no details really.”