Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has urged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to look to Jose Mourinho for inspiration as Manchester United prepare for the daunting task of facing Lionel Messi.
As ever, Messi has been in imperious form for Barcelona this season, scoring 43 goals in 40 games across all competitions, and the Catalan giants are clear favourites to progress to the Champions League semi-finals ahead of Tuesday night’s Old Trafford clash.
Much of the talk leading up to the quarter-final first leg has centred around whether United will be able to thwart Messi and Chris Smalling has claimed he’s relishing the challenge of taking on the iconic Argentinian.
Several teams have tried and failed to shackle Messi this season and Solskjaer insists United would be foolish to focus all their attention on the forward.
Former Germany and Bayern star Matthaus believes Solskjaer must take the same approach Mourinho did when Inter Milan got the better of Barca in the 2009/10 season.
‘Mourinho was Inter boss when they beat Barcelona in the 2010 semi-finals,’ Matthaus said in his column for The Sun.
‘They did it by getting players around Messi all the time, not giving him anywhere to go, covering him like a blanket.
‘It is possible to stop Messi. Teams do it when he plays for Argentina but the Barcelona Messi is different. ‘I reckon he’s involved in 80 per cent of their goals. If you try to man mark him with one player, forget it.
He will just find space and run the game.’ ‘So United have to be compact and whenever Messi gets the ball, then surround him.
‘Working to close him down together will give the team security. ‘That needs very high concentration levels and you can never completely control him. ‘He is always capable of something brilliant — but it gives you a chance.’