‘Manchester United have something special in the last minutes of games.’ Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde admits he is wary of the spirit of 1999 ahead of second leg clash
- Ernesto Valverde insisted he is worried about Manchester United’s team spirit
- United summoned a dramatic turnaround to win the Champions League in 1999
- They’ve also scored late winners this season at Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain
- Valverde said: ‘We are very wary of the spirit that they have. This tie is not over’
- Barcelona hold a slender one-goal lead over United ahead of Tuesday’s clash
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says he is wary of the spirit of 1999 as his team takes a 1-0 lead over Manchester United into Tuesday night’s second leg at the Nou Camp.
Valverde referenced United’s famous comeback from 1-0 down in the Champions League final 20 years ago against Bayern Munich when asked if he planned to start with recently fit-again Ousmane Dembele or use him from the bench.
‘Those that start the game will be important but so will those that finish it,’ said Valverde. ‘Manchester United have something special in the last minutes of games. They have shown it this season and they won a European Cup here showing it.
Ernesto Valverde has admitted he is wary of Manchester United’s ability to score late goals
‘We are very wary of the spirit that they have. In this Champions League they have done well away from home winning three out of four games. They have beaten Juventus and Paris Saint Germain in the last minutes so we will have to be at our best.
‘I think the only away game they have not won so far was away to Valencia so the tie is still open.’
There was a caveat to Valverde’s talk of past United glory at the Camp Nou. He added: ‘We all draw from old experiences. You try to repeat those great nights. But you have to write your own history. You can’t live from what has happened before. We know that and I’m sure they do too.’
Now United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored a late winner in 1999 Champions League final
Valverde said: ‘We’re very wary of their spirit. They’ve done well away from home in Europe’
Valverde will make a late decision on starting with France winger Dembele or former Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho but hinted he would leave the former Dortmund winger on the bench.
He said: ‘Dembele is fit. He played 70 minutes the other day, which was what we had planned. He is available to play but maybe not for 90 minutes.’
Asked if he felt Barcelona would be torn between playing their normal open game or trying to close the match up knowing that Manchester United will have to come out and attack them he said: ‘We have scored a goal away from home but we can’t sit on that.
‘We will be true to our style but we are also aware of what they have in attack and the game can’t become you attack us, we attack you.
Marcus Rashford smashed in a last-gasp penalty to seal United’s qualification in the last round
Barca boss insisted the tie is not over and that he shares Solskjaer’s anger at quick turnaround
‘We don’t want them to score but our game plan as always will be to try to score, anything else would be absurd.’
Valverde backed his opposite number Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s complaints about the lack of time between games. He said: ‘I understand his complaint because it’s absurd that four teams have eight days to recover and four teams have six days. It seems logical to me that you play the first leg on a Wednesday then the second leg is on a Wednesday.’
Valverde declared Lionel Messi fully fit after his weekend rest. The Barcelona coach left out his entire first team in the 0-0 draw with Huesca. He said: ‘With just six days between games I knew I had to do something. The previous result against Atletico Madrid [a 2-0 win that all but sowed up the title] allowed us to do that.’
Asked about Messi’s long run without a goal in the Champions League quarter-finals [five years] , Valverde added: ‘That just means he is closer to scoring in this one.’
Lionel Messi (middle) has also been declared fully fit for Tuesday’s second leg at the Nou Camp