Manchester United were handed arguably the hardest and the most anticipated draw when the Uefa Champions League last 8 and last 4 draws were made in Nyon, Switzerland earlier this afternoon.
The other draws will see Liverpool take on Porto with Tottenham handed Manchester City while Juventus will host Ajax.
Since the draw Manchester United fans have been expressing mixed reactions; some expressing fear, others showing believe.
Below are five reasons why United fans have every reason to believe they will get the better of Barcelona:
1. Solid Defence: Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the reigns at Manchester United, the Red Devils have looked a completely different team, especially in defence. The Norwegian tactician has turned defenders like Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, who Jose Mourinho criticised a lot during his time, into a goal-tight unit. Against an attack as potent as that of Barcelona, the performance of United’s defence will be key to getting a result.
2. Effective Attack: As in defence, Solskjaer has also been able to sharpen United’s formerly blunt attack. Under the former striker, United score a lot of goals with Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashord and most recently, Romelu Lukaku coming in with the goals. United under Solskjaer are devastating on the counter, a system they’ve relied on a lot when faced by a top and attacking opponent. The system works because of the first point.
3. Barcelona’s Vulnerability: Thanks to an effective attack, United are in a very good position to exploit Barcelona’s major vulnerability which is the defence. Though Barcelona have top individual defenders in Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba, they’ve never been convincing as a defensive unit. By again sitting deep and hitting Barcelona on the break when most of their defenders are high up the pitch, United can be sure of goals.
4. Overreliance On Messi: It is open secret that Lionel Messi is Barcelona’s livewire. He’s the reason they defeated Lyon emphatically. Every meaningful Barcelona attack goes through the Argentine superstar. This makes Barcelona one of the most predictable side in world football. With this knowledge, Solskjaer can come up with a system that will curb Messi’s efficiency in the final third, basically by isolating and forcing him into attacking areas that he is least effective.
5. PSG Ginger: United can draw inspiration from their heroics against PSG in the round of 16 going into this one. When no one gave United a chance, the Red Devils stood up to be counted and even outnumbered the better-on-paper French side. This is a similar scenario and United will be looking to replicate the result against PSG.