Ole Gunnar Solskjær warned Manchester United that they will have to be "streetwise" to beat Barcelona out of the Champions League, with the manager hoping to learn from the defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
The result was a 2-0 Old Trafford defeat and Paul Pogba's presence was sent off at 89, which means he was disqualified for the return. United canceled the defeat with a memorable 3-1 in Paris to progress away, but Solskjær wants his team to be smarter against Barça.
Reflecting on a time when United had 10 victories from its 11 opening games, Solskjær said: "Some of these players will have a few tricks up their sleeve, streetwise players. We learned from that PSG game: l & The atmosphere was a little different because they had won so many games.
"But we learned from that PSG game. The players talked about it – how we were dragged into fouls, like European football is. You have to be more patient in tackles. I can feel the tension, the excitement. In training today and yesterday, you can see the players who want to play. "
The Norwegian supported Pogba, wanted by Barcelona when United signed him in 2016, to play an important role in this quarter-final. Solskjær said: "It is not a player, everyone must perform at his highest level and at the best of Paul is able to play a game like this and that's what is expected of him: that really puts his mark on a game like this. Paul's job is to be the creator, and when we win the ball he drives forward, so I expect him to perform. "
Solskjær reiterated the club's position that Pogba will not leave the summer, he says he has once again joined Real Madrid: "He is a Manchester United player. He is one of our great artists and on a big stage. He knows the game it was not his biggest moment against PSG, so he is focused only on playing well against Barcelona and I can't see him not playing for Manchester United next season. "
Ernesto Valverde's team arrived at the Old Trafford for Wednesday night as a favorite to progress towards the last four, but American defender Chris Smalling was optimistic about the prospect of scoring Lionel Messi, five times. winner of the Gold Ball.
"It's something to savor, I think," the central defender said. "This season I was lucky to face Cristiano Ronaldo [for Juventus], Kylian Mbappé [PSG] and they are all challenges that I certainly like and that the players of this club appreciate. I say take it away. "
Solskjær acknowledged Messi's threat, but stated that it is not only he who is careful: "What kind of plan can you stop one of the best players in the world? He is a fantastic player and will go down in history as one of the best individual players in always It will be difficult to stop but it is never impossible.
"We can't just focus on him, we know we have to play 11 against 11. As Chris says, we appreciate the opportunity, but this season we played against Juventus and Ronaldo, PSG with Mbappé. We had Chelsea and Hazard [in the league]. Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and Messi will keep our defenders on tiptoes, so let's see how we handle ".
The manager must also consider the fact that Ashley Young, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw will skip the leg back if they have been booked, but have used Roy Keane's example in the 1999 Champions League semifinal against Juventus to inspire them. The Irish turned into a man-of-the-match display despite showing a yellow card that excluded him from the final. "Roy Keane was the best example of how to react if you intend to be out of the next game," said Solskjær. "But then again we know that we cannot give fouls. How many goals did he score from free kicks just outside the box? Of course, we must be careful."
Solskjær was a United player when Sir Alex Ferguson's side drew 3-3 with Barça both at home and in group games in the 1998-99 competition. "If we get an overall score of 6-6 and a shooting at the Camp Nou, I think everyone will be happy," said Solskjær.
United's coach hopes that Marcus Rashford will not have an adverse ankle reaction after training with the team on Tuesday morning and awaits fitness tests on Matic and Ander Herrera. The former has more chances to be available but Solskjær has confirmed Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly are definitely out.
Gerard Piqué, the former US defender who made a first return to the game at Old Trafford, indicated the PSG result. "The tie is a great example," he said. "I saw both matches and here PSG was better in the first half, in the second half they scored and could have scored some more goals.
"But you can't leave Manchester United alive. If you can beat them by scoring a lot of goals, you have to do it [as] They have a great team and a great story and they showed in the return match in Paris that, even though they played with many guys from the academy, they qualified last minute. It's a great example for us, we have to be very focused from the first minute to the last minute of the draw and we have to play to the maximum to qualify. "Pique wiped out Solskjaer's claim about Barcelona's propensity for the dark arts." Ah no, I think the referees are different in the Premier League than in the Champions League, everyone knows that, "the 32-year-old said." In the Premier League they allowed players to play more, let the contacts happen, here in the Champions League they are perhaps more like we know in Spain [stricter]. He just said why he wants his players to be ready for this and this can happen. "
After Smalling was optimistic about Messi, Valverde threw a relaxed note on whatever United could try to stop him.
"Messi is the player he is," said the coach. "I understand that all managers and players are looking for a way to stop it. Sometimes there are ways to try to neutralize certain players, tomorrow we will see if it is possible. We expect a lot of things from Leo and he usually offers them."