Rio Ferdinand Tells Manchester United How To Stop Lionel Messi In Champions League
Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United's players need to 'make sure they're not in awe' of Lionel Messi.
Messi is enjoying an ultra-prolific campaign. He's bagged an incredible 43 goals (!!) this season - including eight goals in the Champions League.
He'll look to add to his remarkable goal tally at Old Trafford.
Barcelona face Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-final and ahead of the first leg, Ferdinand has offered some words of advice to his former side.
"Barca have a certain way of playing which is possession based football and they press you when they haven't got the ball, so they (United) have got to be very mindful of that," he said on BT Sport via Mirror.
"But it will come down to the little man, Messi. How do they stop him and combat him?
"They can't afford to give him space. If they give him space to turn and front up he's going to cause huge problems."
United can't afford to give him space and they also can't afford to be in awe of the Argentina superstar.
"What the players have to do is make sure they're not in awe of him, he's a superstar, a legend, one of the best to ever play the game but they've got to take that out of their thinking before the game and that's half the job," Ferdinand added.
"Half the battle is the mental battle before the game, if they can sort that out.
"I'm sure Ole will have a plan for him (Messi) so he won't be able to play 1v1 during the whole game.
"Ole has to be thinking about not conceding and hopefully nicking a goal and taking it to the Nou Camp and having something to play for."
Chris Smalling asked about facing Lionel Messi. "It's something to relish. I say bring it on".
- Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonESPN) April 9, 2019
Chris Smalling finds himself with an unenviable task of attempting to stop Messi.
How will the defender fare? Not long to find out.