Many would say Manchester United drew the short straw when they were handed Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draw on Friday.
[ MORE: What draw means for PL ]
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils aren’t thinking like that. At all.
Speaking ahead of United’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash at Wolves on Saturday, United’s caretaker manager revealed that his side have no fear and believe they can beat Lionel Messi and Co. to set up a potential UCL semifinal with bitter rivals Liverpool.
“We’ve shown against PSG that on any given day we can beat a top team,” Solskaer said. “Then again there’s so many variables and these games will be decided by margins. And of course with [our] VAR [decision], even though for me it’s a penalty, you can still be unlucky and not get it in the last minute. Then we’d be out and no one would really remember the PSG performance. So yes, we can go all the way but you’ve got to be lucky and good along the way. The confidence in the players, it’s sky high. And the mood is good, the training attitude is good, so hopefully we can keep that run going.”
With the confidence sky high and United fresh from securing massive away wins at Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG in various competitions, Solskjaer and his players may not see going to the Nou Camp for the second leg as a problem.
When the draw was made, United were scheduled to play the second leg at home but that has been switched due to themselves and Man City not being able to play UCL home games on back to back days in Manchester.
UEFA had already stated that crosstown rivals Man City would not have their fixture changed as they finished one place above United in the Premier League last season, so United will now host Barca in the first leg and then head to the Nou Camp for the second.
Solskjaer is just fine with that, as the Nou Camp was the scene of his dramatic 90th minute winner for United in the 1999 UCL final against Bayern Munich.
“I’ve had so many texts from friends saying this year is going to be the year that we’ll get through because of my [shirt] number, 20, and it being 20 years ago,” Solskjaer said. “We’re off to the Nou Camp again – it was the biggest night I’ve had in football. Of course, for all of us in that team, it was an unbelievable night. It’s a great stadium.”
If United can somehow stay within one goal of Barcelona after the first leg, it will be a job well done. Messi and Suarez can rip any team apart, but there is a feeling that United could get at Barcelona’s midfield and defense.
Solskjaer has already shown he is adept at setting United up to counter ruthlessly away from home, and with Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and others in full flow, nobody, even Barca, will really want to play them right now.