Manchester United host Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals’ first-leg on Wednesday, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be looking to draw inspiration from their triumph over Paris Saint-Germain in the last round.
The Norwegian and his assistant Mike Phelan were at the Camp Nou on Saturday to run the rule over Barca in the La Liga clash with Atletico Madrid, and Lionel Messi made the difference, doubling the hosts’ lead minutes after Luis Suarez’s late opener.
English Premier League legend Alan Shearer believes the Argentine is the reason why advancing to the semifinals will be a step too far for the Red Devils.
“You cannot write off Manchester United after the way they fought back to beat Paris Saint-Germain. But I just think Barcelona will have too much for them over two games — mainly because of that guy Lionel Messi,” the ex-Newcastle United striker told The Sun.
“I expect it will be Messi who makes the difference against United and he is the reason I think Barca will perhaps go on to win the whole thing.
“United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserve this crack against Barca because of what they did in Paris. But I just think it will be a step too far for them.”
Messi has been his usual brilliant self thus far this term, scoring 33 league goals and assisting 12 others in 29 appearances – the most across Europe.
The 31-year-old has eight goals and three assists in the Champions League, topping the competition’s goalscoring charts too, and United have to find a way of limiting his influence over both legs if they are to have a chance.
While the PSG win was commendable despite many ruling them out, a Messi-led Barcelona are a different team entirely, and the Red Devils have a lot to prove against one of the best sides on the planet.