Barca came to yesterday’s match with one mission – to reach the UCL Semifinals. Although the start was pretty tough, eventually 2 goals by Messi, and another of Coutinho, Barca won 3-0. Therefore, with a 4-0 result in the two matches, Barca reach the UCL Semifinals in style. However, it wasn’t an easy task, and it raised some important talking points.
Tense start to the match
Manchester United did a good job preparing for the match. Even though most people expected Lukaku to start at the attack, MUFC started with 3 fast attackers. And in the first minutes Lingaard, Marcial and Rashford managed to embarrass the Barca defence, and a goal wasn’t far.
Barca, on the other hand, came to the match with pretty much everything to lose. Although they came to the match after an away 1-0 win, it seems like the players felt tense. Therefore, the first minutes felt a little like a ‘Déjà vu’ to Rome last years. However, this time it was Messi who scored 2 fast goals, and pretty much settled the match.
You just don’t mess with Messi
Before the first match in this tie, MUFC defender Chris Smalling said he knows how to stop Leo Messi. At the first match, it seemed like his way to stop Messi was to hurt him. Therefore, after almost breaking the face of Messi in the first match, the Argentinean looked quite hurt at the first match. However, as MUFC legend Rio Ferdinand said, Smalling “woke the beast”, and it took Messi 16 minutes to punish.
Messi took the ball to Young, did his trademark nutmeg to Fred, and then shot the ball into De Gea’s net. The fact that Barca are at the UCL Semifinals Is a lot thanks to that goal that killed the great start of MUFC yesterday. In addition, it seems like MUFC goalkeeper De Gea took it worse than the others. He took it so bad that he forgot how to stop a ball for a few minutes there. Therefore, before MUFC could settle again, Messi scored his second goal.
With Leo it’s enough to lose your site for only a second, and he will be there to kill you. Therefore, with his goals yesterday, Messi now has 24 goals against England’s top 6 teams. Although he did not play at the EPL, he scored more goals than Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Van Persie against those teams.
Coutinho shutting everybody up?
The third goal was a screamer by Coutinho. The Brazilian did his trademark move from the left, and fired a shot that left De Gea without a chance to stop it. It was great to see Cou score a great goal again, and it’s pretty much what every Barca fan wants him to do.
After the goal, Coutinho did a gesture and answered his critics. It’s sometimes hard to forget that those superstars are human beings, and words can hurt them. However, the best way to answer to reporters and critics is on the field. Hopefully, Coutinho’s goal will give him the confidence boost he needs, and we’ll get his best version in the peak of the season.
Looking forward, I think Coutinho will never be a natural winger. Therefore, it’s quite hard for Barca to play with two ‘false’ wingers that play more centrally. In addition, when Dembele is fully fit, it’s up to the coach to make them play at the same time. In my opinion, there are two options to play our four attackers: one option is playing with Coutinho in the midfield in a 433 formation. However, the better option in my optinion is returning to the 4231 formation. Therefore, in that formation we can play Cou and Dembouz as wide midfielders, and Messi as free-role player.