Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar have a plan to keep Lionel Messi quiet

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is hoping Lionel Messi loses his touch in time for their Champions League tie with Barcelona.

Mata wrote for his blog: “As Barça are one of the toughest opponents in world football, we will have to put all of that into practice.

“For the boss, returning to Camp Nou will be very special, as well as for everyone who was there on that special night in May 1999.

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“This tie will ask us to put in a huge effort, but we are ready to give our best to try to go through.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar’s plan

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to have to come up with a plan to stop Lionel Messi on Wednesday when Manchester United play Barcelona and the Norwegian might want to turn to his former boss for advice.

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United set up a Champions League quarter final clash with Barcelona having beaten Paris Saint-Germain and if Solskjaer’s side are going to progress to the semi-final they’re going to have to keep Messi quiet.

The Barcelona forward is in formidable form scoring nine times in his last six games, including two hat-tricks and Solskjaer might want to turn to his old boss for advice after the Scot revealed he had come up with a plan on how to deal with the Argentina international.

Ferguson’s United side came up against Messi’s Barcelona in the Champions League final in 2009 and 2011, losing on both occasions, and following the two defeats he set up hatching a plan to stop Messi should he ever face him again.

“To beat Barcelona in that cycle you needed centre-backs who could be really positive,” Ferguson wrote in his 2013 autobiography.

“Rio and Vidic were at an age where their preference was to defend the space. Nothing wrong with that. Quite correct. But, against Barcelona, it’s a limited approach.

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“You need centre-backs who are prepared to drop right on top of [Lionel] Messi and not worry about what is happening behind them. Ok, he’ll drift away to the side. That’s fine. He’s less of a threat on the side than he is through the centre.

“After the inquest I told myself: ‘When we play Barcelona next time in a Champions League final, I would have Jones and Smalling, or Smalling and Evans, right on top of Messi.’ I wasn’t going to let him torture us again.”

Ferguson never got the chance to put his plan into action before retiring in 2013 but perhaps Solskjaer can take on his advice.

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