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How can Manchester United provide an upset against Barcelona?

Manchester United are set to face an uphill task on Wednesday, as they welcome Barcelona to Old Trafford for the first leg of their Quarter Final of the UEFA Champions League.

It is clear that United have a very tough match-up, especially with a certain small Argentine leading the Barcelona attack.

However, is there a way that United can perform a massive upset and somehow knock out Barcelona, the favourites for this year's Champions League title?

Barcelona's key player is obviously Lionel Messi, and he will take some hard work to stop. However, every time Barcelona have found it hard to grab some points, most notably the 4-4 draw against Villarreal about two weeks ago, the opposition has always targeted Sergio Busquets.

The Spaniard is probably the most crucial player in the Barcelona team, as he is the one that constantly links the defence with the attack. He is a natural passer and has the ability to distribute the ball extremely quickly, giving space to the more attacking-minded players.

To put Busquets' wonderful passing into perspective, he has managed to have a 93.2% pass accuracy in the Champions League this season, and 90.1% in La Liga. None of the Manchester United midfielders come close to those stats, except for Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay, yet they have only played three Champions League games between them this season.

Whilst he has gotten slower due to his age, he makes up for it by intercepting and tackling wonderfully, averaging 3.8 tackles in the Champions League this season, and having 1.1 interceptions each game in the same competition. These might not seem to be very big numbers, but considering that Barcelona tend to dominate the possession in games, he might not need to get the ball back that often.

The only thing that Manchester United can do, is to try and somehow bypass Busquets. They have to attack the flanks, mostly Barcelona's right-hand side, especially with Lionel Messi often cutting in from the right and with Sergi Roberto being quite suspect defensively. If Nelson Semedo starts ahead of Roberto, then United have an even bigger problem, as the Portuguese has shown this season that he is very resolute defensively.

In order to even have a chance of challenging Barcelona, Manchester United's left-side have to be on top of their game, and the link-up that has often been shown between Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial (as I think that he should start ahead of others), has to be in full effect.

However, Barcelona's front three are still a massive threat, and whoever is playing in defence, has to be wary of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Philippe Coutinho, with the first two mentioned being extremely influential throughout the season. Whoever partners Victor Lindelof, has to be strong and calm on the ball, yet with Eric Bailly seemingly injured, the player that possesses both of those qualities is immediately out of the picture.

Whilst it will be very tough for United on Wednesday, if they manage to somehow keep a clean sheet, or else keep the score very low, they might find a way to come out of this tie on top, with the Semi Finals looming large.


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