Football

Barcelona don’t scare anyone: Owen Hargreaves

Schmeichel and Owen also unimpressed by La Liga champions

Despite Barcelona's 1-0 away win over Manchester United yesterday morning (Singapore time), several former Red Devils were unimpressed by the Spanish champions.

United failed to register a shot on target in the Champions League quarter-final, first-leg clash at Old Trafford, which was decided by Luke Shaw's own-goal from a Luis Suarez header in the 12th minute.

Barcelona were nowhere near their scintillating best either, but they are in firm control of the tie, having not lost at home in the Champions League for six years.

Not that some former Red Devils were worried.

Former Bayern Munich and United midfielder Owen Hargreaves said on BT Sport: "They're really comfortable in La Liga, but they won't scare anyone playing like this.

"(Sergio) Busquets - we've never seen him give away so many balls in possession.

"We said before the game, 'Could United be in it going into the second leg?' They are.

"I think we'll see more fireworks in the second leg."

His former United and England teammate Michael Owen agreed, saying on BT Sport: " I was not very impressed with Barca. I thought Man United at least deserved a draw."

Goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel, meanwhile, unfavourably compared Ernesto Valverde's men - who have lost just four times in all competitions this season and are chasing a Treble - with Barca teams of old.

He said on beIN Sports: "They are not the force they used to be. They were in trouble against Roma (in the quarter-finals last season) and you can see that there are ways to get them into trouble.

"The old Barcelona would have gone for 2-0, 3-0, 4-0...

"Barcelona are a team that you can challenge. I'm not saying it is going to be easy at the Nou Camp, Man United need to be very different."

Ex-United striker Dion Dublin agreed, telling the BBC that next week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to get his side to squeeze Barca with an aggressive high press, play less passively and get his players to make positive runs off the ball for Paul Pogba to exploit with his passing range.

He added: "Of course, beating Barca in their own backyard is going to be extremely difficult but I believe United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got the tools to do it.

"If they have a positive attitude, then they can put Barcelona under pressure - we saw that for spells of this first leg.

"United only need one goal to level things up and I don't even think they need to score it early on."

That positivity was also apparent in the Old Trafford dressing room. Chris Smalling felt his team "nullified" Barca with an "intensity that they're not used to" and Scott McTominay said: "We're Manchester United, you can never write us off."

Pogba, meanwhile, felt United's second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round may play on Barca's mind.

He said: "We believe we can beat them.

"Probably PSG will be in their minds, because they saw what we can do."

Amid the bullishness, former Rangers striker Ally McCoist sounded a warning.

He said on talkSPORT: "It wasn't a brilliant Barcelona.

"That's one of the concerning things for United because you could look at it as an opportunity missed.

"(Lionel) Messi wasn't at his best, Suarez wasn't at his best.

"But they were still comfortable. I fear for United at the Nou Camp, I really do."


MAN UNITED:

De Gea, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Young, McTominay, Fred, Pogba, Dalot (Lingard 74), Lukaku (Martial 68), Rashford (Pereira 85)

BARCELONA:

Ter Stegen, Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo, Rakitic, Busquets (Alena 90+3), Arthur (Roberto 66), Coutinho (Vidal 65), Suarez, Messi

Football