By Neil Custis
Q) WHAT must Man Utd do tactically to beat Barcelona?
A) Many of Barca’s attacks start right from the defence so United will look to push Dani Alves and Co back. United also need to keep possession as well, if not better, than them and get Wayne Rooney on the ball as much as possible.
Q) What is Utd’s strongest side?
A) Edwin van der Sar in goal, Fabio and Patrice Evra in the full-back positions with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the middle.
Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park on the wings with Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs in midfield leaving Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez up front.
Q) How many times has Alex Ferguson used that side?
A) This side has been used in its entirety only once at Schalke as United produced one of their finest away performances in Europe. The same side, but with Rafael instead of Fabio, beat Chelsea away in the quarter-final.
Q) Where are Barcelona’s weaknesses?
A) The only one you can pinpoint is former West Ham and Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano at centre-back.
His play-acting can be found out by a strong referee and is less than nimble on the turn which will mean both Rooney and Hernandez can cause him problems.
Q) How do you stop Lionel Messi?
A) Starve him of the ball, first of all. If you cut off the supply line then there is nothing he can do. When he does get it, hound him down. Don’t foul, just don’t give him space to breath.
And watch for who he is looking for, he won’t run through a United team like he did in the Bernabeu last month.
Q) Should Man Utd man-mark rather than zonal-mark?
A) Man-marking will only leave a hole for the rest of Barca’s talented stars to exploit. United are too good to sacrifice one of their own and should try to attack with every outfield player. Messi needs to be starved not followed.
Q) What has changed since the sides met in the 2009 Champions League final?
A) United have lost Cristiano Ronaldo but they have gained a greater team ethic.
Instead of relying on quick breaks they play a greater possession game which allows them to dominate teams.
Q) Can United beat Barcelona?
A) It will need the most committed effort, starting with Rooney hounding down the defence to cut off many moves at the source.
United’s possession and inter-play can open up Barcelona and they have a solid experienced defence to keep them out.