Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s remarkable recovery to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 has instilled a belief they can also end Barcelona’s European dreams.
The Spanish champions travel to Old Trafford on Wednesday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie aiming to take another step closer to a third treble of La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey since 2009.
United have the onerous task of stopping an on-form Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, but Solskjaer is confident his side have learned from their mistakes in losing 2-0 at home to PSG before pulling off a miraculous 3-1 victory in Paris to progress on away goals.
“I can feel the tension, the excitement. I felt the mood ahead of PSG home game was different. We have learnt from that PSG game,” said the Norwegian, who was appointed United’s new permanent manager last month after a highly successful caretaker spell in charge.
“Of course when you get Barcelona, with the quality of their team, we know we need to step up our game.
“We know we need to perform to our best levels, which we didn’t against PSG at home. The outcome of the second leg against PSG has given the players and supporters belief that the same is possible against Barcelona.”
United’s comeback at the Parc des Princes was even more remarkable as Solskjaer was without 10 first-team players.
He could be short-handed once more on Wednesday with Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic fitness doubts, while Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly are absent through injury.
However, Paul Pogba returns from suspension after being sent-off in the first leg defeat to PSG.
Pogba has yet to truly shine on the Champions League stage for United, but Solskjaer called on the club’s record signing to finally rise to the big occasion.
“Everyone has to perform at their best level, but at Paul’s best he can run a game like this.
“Paul’s job is to be the creator and to drive us forward. I expect him to perform tomorrow.”
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