Manchester United face Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final and has given the defenders at the club some advice on dealing with Argentina talisman Lionel Messi.
Messi has scored eight goals in six appearances in the Champions League already this season, so keeping him quiet is never an easy task. United defence are in for a busy night.
Ferdinand, of course, played against Messi during his time at Old Trafford and he has some words of wisdom for the current group of players.
“Barca have a certain way of playing which is possession-based football and they press you when they haven’t got the ball, so they (United) have got to be very mindful of that,” he told BT Sport, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News. “But it will come down to the little man, Messi.
“How do they stop him and combat him? They can’t afford to give him space. If they give him space to turn and front up he’s going to cause huge problems.”
Ferdinand adds that the United players need to make sure they’re not in awe of Messi or too respectful of their opponents tonight.
“What the players have to do is make sure they’re not in awe of him, he’s a superstar, a legend, one of the best to ever play the game but they’ve got to take that out of their thinking before the game and that’s half the job.
“Half the battle is the mental battle before the game if they can sort that out. I’m sure Ole will have a plan for him (Messi) so he won’t be able to play 1v1 during the whole game. Ole has to be thinking about not conceding and hopefully nicking a goal and taking it to the Nou Camp and having something to play for.”
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) April 10, 2019
United are likely to line-up with a back four consisting of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw.
The thought of Young facing that Barcelona front three frightens the sh*t out of me!
But it will just have to be a backs-against-the-wall job for United in order to succeed in a tie as underdogs.