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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer challenges misfiring strikers to prove their worth against Barcelona

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 15/04/2019 James Ducker
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Watch: Solskjaer says Manchester United need to deserve a win over Barcelona (Reuters)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his misfiring Manchester United forwards to step up and show their worth against Barcelona after warning his side to forget all the talk about fate by writing their own Champions League history.

Twenty years after scoring the dramatic stoppage time goal that clinched the European Cup for United against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp, Solskjaer returns to the scene of one of the club’s greatest triumphs in the hope of producing another.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his misfiring Manchester United forwards to step up and show their worth against Barcelona. © gett Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his misfiring Manchester United forwards to step up and show their worth against Barcelona. United must overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona on Tuesday to progress to the last four for the first time since 2011 and set up a potential semi-final meeting with bitter rivals Liverpool.

They must score to stand any chance of achieving that and, having seen his team fail to register a shot on target in the first leg at Old Trafford last week and struggle for goals since their dramatic 3-1 comeback against Paris St-Germain at the Parc des Princes in the previous round, Solskjaer called on his strikeforce to deliver - and recognise fate will play no part.

“It’s very important because we need to score goals and if it’s Rom [Romelu Lukaku], Jesse [Lingard], Anthony [Martial], Alexis [Sanchez], Marcus [Rashford], we need big performances,” the United manager said.

“We have to defend well but we have to have that little bit extra to score goals against teams like this. Whoever starts, we want to see some good form. We weren’t good enough against them [at Old Trafford].

“It’s very important because we need to score goals and if it’s Rom [Romelu Lukaku], Jesse [Lingard], Anthony [Martial], Alexis [Sanchez], Marcus [Rashford], we need big performances,” the United manager said. © getty “It’s very important because we need to score goals and if it’s Rom [Romelu Lukaku], Jesse [Lingard], Anthony [Martial], Alexis [Sanchez], Marcus [Rashford], we need big performances,” the United manager said. “That’s the 100 million dollar question - who can score them? That’s why the best strikers are the most expensive ones. We had a couple of decent chances [in the first leg] but when you can’t work the goalkeeper you can’t score. We know we’ll create chances, we have a goal threat, it’s about taking a deep breath and taking those chances.

“I believe you get what you deserve in sports, that you put your life and effort and determination into things and get exactly what you deserve. People have said to me it has to be our year - that it’s 20 years ago [since I scored the winner], that I used to play with No. 20, back at Camp Nou, but we have to deserve it. We can’t just rely on fate, no.”

The Norwegian may know what it takes to score in this stadium but it remains to be seen if his players can. Lukaku has not scored since his brace against PSG but could partner Rashford, who has managed just two goals since his decisive penalty against the French champions, in attack alongside either Lingard or Martial, both of whom have struggled badly for form and fitness of late and who have one goal between them in nine weeks.

Sanchez has also returned to United’s squad after six weeks out with a knee injury and, although he is unlikely to start, Solskjaer insisted there was plenty for the Chile striker to prove against his former club. Sanchez left Barcelona for Arsenal in 2014 but his performances for United have been dire and Solskjaer wants to see a stark improvement.

The Norwegian may know what it takes to score in this stadium but it remains to be seen if his players can. © getty The Norwegian may know what it takes to score in this stadium but it remains to be seen if his players can. “Alexis has played here and when he’s on the pitch he wants to prove a point for us as well,” said Solskjaer.

“He’s been injured, not had a fantastic season so far so let’s hope he can end the season great. Let’s hope when he’s on the pitch he can be happy with his performance.”

Although he travelled with the squad, Luke Shaw is suspended following his booking in the first game, which means Ashley Young could deputise at left back and Diogo Dalot start at right back. Nemanja Matic is available after the midfielder missed the last two games through illness.

United have scored just four times from open play since their win over PSG but Solskjaer will take heart from that comeback and the fact they have scored nine goals in four Champions League away matches and looked more comfortable on their travels than at Old Trafford.

“Of course that memory from PSG will help the players, we know we can turn things round,” he said. “Barca at the Nou Camp is a different prospect but the memory from that night will live with the players. It’s not that long ago and we’re one goal better off.”

Despite insisting United must be better on the ball and would “suffer” if they allowed Barcelona 80 per cent possession, Solskjaer hinted at a physical approach and stressed the need to maximise set pieces. © getty Despite insisting United must be better on the ball and would “suffer” if they allowed Barcelona 80 per cent possession, Solskjaer hinted at a physical approach and stressed the need to maximise set pieces. Despite insisting United must be better on the ball and would “suffer” if they allowed Barcelona 80 per cent possession, Solskjaer hinted at a physical approach and stressed the need to maximise set pieces.

“We can still be in this tie in the 93rd minute,” he said. “We can get a set piece, we are physically taller than them but you have to use it better than last week. It’s about the quality but going forward we need to score. I don’t mind if it's the 93rd minute because if we get to injury time we are a fit team. We’re getting fitter and fitter. But if we get the first goal it’ll be so important - suddenly we’re level and a draw would suit us.”

Barcelona threw away a 4-1 lead against Roma in last season’s quarter-final to exit 4-4 on away goals after a 3-0 defeat in the second leg in Italy but goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is confident there will be no repeat against United.

“It [Roma] was hard of course but it’s another year on, we got over it,” Ter Stegen said. “We don’t want that to happen again. We need to bear it in mind and look forward and hopefully we will beat them. 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.”

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