Chris Smalling “relishing” Lionel Messi challenge ahead of CL quarter-final

0
761
Smalling has said that he is "relishing" the challenge Lionel Messi will provide in Wednesday's Champions League tie.

Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling has bravely teased Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi ahead of their match-up in Wednesday’s massive Champions League quarter-final first leg at Old Trafford.

Smalling has become a regular starter in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence, and the Englishman has stepped up to his task as one of the more experienced players in this young Manchester United side. 

The 27-year old spoke before United’s huge game against the Spanish giants:

“It’s something to relish, this season I’ve been lucky enough to face (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Kylian) Mbappe, they’re all challenges I relish and the players relish. I say bring it on”, Smalling said.

Lionel Messi has a staggering record in England, having played all of the Premier League’s top six in his glittering career with Barcelona. The Argentine has faced English opposition 30 times, scoring an outstanding 22 goals and registering 6 assists. 

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi was named Man of the Match when Barcelona won the 2011 Champions League final against United at Wembley.

United fans will surely remember Messi’s otherworldly performance at Wembley eight years ago when the two sides met in the 2011 Champions League final. That was the last meeting between the two European heavyweights, one in which Barcelona triumphed to a 3-1 victory.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be well aware of the threat Messi and Barcelona possess, and insisted that his Manchester United side “crave” such matches.

“We want these games against the biggest clubs and the biggest teams. It’s these games our fans and this club crave. We are looking forward to this one”, said Solskjaer.

The Norwegian has remarkably turned around United’s fortunes since his appointment in December, after an abysmal first half of the season under former boss Jose Mourinho.

United are fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League and the last-ditch win at Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 has given fans much-needed respite and massive confidence going into Wednesday’s game.