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Owen’s Right, We Shouldn’t Be Frightened Of Barca

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Manchester United begin their Champions League campaign next Wednesday against Benfica in Group C and many fans will be looking forward to the game, hoping that it’s the first step on our efforts to claim a fourth European Cup.

Due to the outstanding form of Barcelona over the last 3-4yrs, many neutral fans as well as those in the media believe that it will be very hard to stop Pep Guardiola’s side from winning the competition for the 4th time in 7 years, following their successes in 2006, 2009 and last season.

It’s hard to look past the Catalans as the favourites for the competition. Even if the likes of Carles Puyol and Xavi are getting older, Guardiola has refreshed his side over the summer with the signings of Cesc Fabregas and Alexei Sanchez.

Not only that, but he can now also rely on more of Barca’s endless line of talented youngsters as the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Andreu Fontas are already seemingly good enough of challenging for a regular place in the squad.

So bearing that in mind, it’s very easy to understand why people believe that Barca will win virtually everything this seaosn as seemingly only a few teams in Europe – Real Madrid, Chelsea, The Milan’s and United, on thier good day (which is probably when Barca are having an off day) – are capable of beating them. 

Anybody who knows anything in football will know that in last year’s Champions League final at Wembley, United were completely outclassed by Barca who ran out a deserving 3-1 winners. The way Barca played that night was incredible and even if as a United fan whilst it was painful to watch, you couldn’t help but marvel and enjoy (is that the right word?) that we had been beaten by a better side playing a beautiful almost unimaginable style of football.

On Tueday on the club’s official website, it showed some quotes by Michael Owen speaking about how we would/should perhaps play if we came up against Guardiola’s side in this season’s competition that will be featured in Inside United, the club’s official magazine.

Here’s what Owen had to say about how United would have to combat Barca :

“If we played Barcelona again in the final, then we’d have to do something differently because they obviously outplayed us on the night,”

“Then again, I don’t think there’s any shame in losing to a team like that. We’re not ashamed of how we played at Wembley but, if we played them again, then I do think we’d have to look at adopting a slightly different approach.

“On that one night’s evidence, you’d have to say that there was a gap between the two sides because they beat us quite convincingly. But that was a one-off game. We wouldn’t be frightened of playing them again, that’s for sure.”

The key word to take from Owen’s quotes there is ‘different’ and certainly it goes without saying that if we were to face Barca this season that the fans would expect us to play a different way. Obviously a balance has to be found. You can’t just go all out with a ‘gun-ho’ approach and not bother with defending as clearly you will be left open in midfield and with Barca’s quality in that area and up front they will hurt you.

Equally so, as we’ve seen if you sit back and try to contain them, they will pick off passes at will and wear you down that way. One of the great skills of this current Barca team is that they are patient and even when they do score an early goal, never panic when a second doesn’t arrive immediately as they believe that it won’t be too long until another goal does arrive.

So whilst Barca will be the favourites for the competition this year, the top clubs around Europe will be wanting to stop them more than ever and prove to pundits and neutral fans around the globe that the competition this year is not just one that will find out who will lose to Barca in the final in Munich, but one in which is still very much an open competition.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87