How Ousmane Dembele's return influences Barcelona's tactics against Man United

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Ernesto Valverde must help Barcelona keep Manchester United at bay or indeed kill them off, extinguishing their hopes of progress in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Camp Nou plays host to the English outfit who must overturn a 1-0 deficit following victory for the Catalans at Old Trafford last week.

Here, we look at the key tactics Valverde may employ.

Click here to read United’s key tactics.

DEMBELE EFFECT

Ousmane Dembele’s likely return to the starting line-up should see his pace and trickery on the left wing stretch United’s defence, creating space for Lionel Messi when he drifts inside.

The Argentine, along with Luis Suarez, definitely missed the scrambling effect the 21-year-old has on defences during his injury layoff.

The Frenchman’s threat means Jordi Alba’s marauding runs forward from full-back carry more weight as well, bringing his cut-backs for Messi into play. As the game progresses and United begin to commit more numbers forward, Dembele’s searing pace will prove crucial on the counter-attack, something that they sorely lacked during the closing stages at Old Trafford.

RAKITIC ROLE

Given that United only had 35 per cent of possession at home, it’s conceivable that they may enjoy even less at Camp Nou. For their part, Barcelona must drive home that advantage and ask more questions of the defence.

With Dembele likely to push up with Messi and Suarez in possession, Ivan Rakitic must support the front three in the final third.

During a prolonged spell of controlled passing, the Croatian can take up a number 10 role in behind the attack to create more problems for the visitors. Sergi Roberto can then push up and tuck inside to sit alongside Arthur and Sergio Busquets, maintaining pressure on United.

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How a midfield double pivot can help Man United pull off a famous comeback against Barcelona

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to mastermind another successful away leg result if Manchester United are to avoid elimination from the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The Norwegian takes his side to Camp Nou where they must overturn a 1-0 deficit following Barcelona‘s victory at Old Trafford last week.

Here, we look at the key tactics he may employ.

Click here to read Barca’s key tactics.

MIDFIELD DOUBLE PIVOT

The tie remains finely poised and a 4-2-3-1 formation may help Solskjaer find the sweet spot between defence and attack. With Nemanja Matic back fit and Scott McTominay rested over the weekend, United could field a double pivot with Paul Pogba given licence to attack ahead of them.

The defensive midfield duo would be tasked with containing Barcelona in the middle of the park while serving as a launching pad for attacks in the transition, unleashing the front four when the opportunity presents itself.

With the energy he possesses, McTominay can even join in the attack on occasion with Matic’s presence offering insurance, especially when the full-backs get involved as well.

CONTAINING BARCA’S LEFT FLANK

A banged-up Lionel Messi was hardly in his element at Old Trafford but even then he managed to produce the decisive moment. Attempts to shadow the Argentine are futile but nullifying the tools he uses most is a viable ploy.

Ousmane Dembele’s likely return to the starting XI should strengthen Barca’s left flank, boosting Messi’s link-up play and service.

Deploying McTominay on the right of a midfield double pivot would help keep Dembele and Jordi Alba in check. Ashley Young was poor in the first leg but should retain his spot as that would allow Diogo Dalot to occupy the right flank ahead of him, offering more cover in defence in tandem with drive and quality delivery in attack.

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Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes 1-0 advantage over Man United is a dangerous one

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Barcelona No1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes their one-goal advantage over Manchester United is “not enough to defend” ahead of the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

The Spanish champions walked away from Old Trafford with a 1-0 win following Luke Shaw’s early own goal but Ter Stegen is wary of a United side that have already upset the odds this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side trailed 2-0 at the halfway stage of their last-16 fixture against Paris St Germain, only to stage a remarkable comeback at the Parc des Princes to reach the last-eight.

Ter Stegen said: “The good thing is that we play differently to PSG but they are really dangerous.

“They are very quick. You always have to have be alert. I think it’s they key to win this very difficult game. They know how to play in a very calm way. They made things really hard for us (in the first leg).

“The result we got in Manchester is dangerous because it’s a very small advantage, it’s not enough to defend.

“We need to step forward and create risky situations. We have to keep the ball and create good chances and score.”

Ter Stegen’s cautiousness could be, in part, due to Barca’s shocking downfall against Roma at the same stage of the competition last season.

Barca were given a few nervy moments by United in the first-leg.

Barca were given a few nervy moments by United in the first-leg.

The Catalan giants seemed to be coasting after claiming a 4-1 victory at the Nou Camp but they were left shell-shocked as their Italian opponents rallied to win 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to progress on away goals.

Speaking about the stunning turn of events, Ter Stegen added: “It was hard of course but it’s another year on, we got over it.

“We don’t want that to happen again. We need to bear it in mind and look forward.”

Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde rested several first-team players at the weekend in an effort to keep them fresh for Tuesday night – but the tactic backfired as they were held to a goalless draw by LaLiga’s bottom club Huesca.

One positive from the fixture was Ousmane Dembele’s return to action after a month on the sidelines because of injury.

The Frenchman played 67 minutes on Saturday and may retain his starting role against United – though Valverde is wary of overburdening the 21-year-old.

“It’s a possibility that he may start, he might not” Valverde said. “The other day he played 60 minutes that is what we wanted.

“We didn’t want him to play that long but he felt OK, we just wanted to have him ready for this game. I’m not sure he will be able to play for 90 minutes.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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