Manchester United and Barcelona, two of the biggest clubs in world football. The Champions League semi finals await and the pressure could not be any higher. This is where boys become men and men become legends.
The last time these two faced one another in competitive competition was in 2011’s Champions League Final, remembered for Rooney’s magnificent equaliser, David Villa’s sumptuous strike and Lionel Messi’s outstanding all round performance. There are few survivors from those squads, but the rivalry remains just as strong.
On that night, Alex Ferguson’s men failed to contain Messi’s brilliance, with the little Argentine maestro running the show for much of the ninety minutes, leaving opposition defenders in his wake.
This time, almost a decade on, the task remains exactly the same. Stop Messi and you can stop Barcelona. Preventing one player from performing to the best of their ability sounds relatively simple on paper: put two men on him, cut passing lanes and put in harsher than necessary challenges. Messi is not just any old player though, as he has demonstrated for years.