download All Football App

Man United vs Barcelona: A tie rich in nostalgia that fuels the Ole love story

  /  autty

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's second coming took another enchanting twist as the Champions League conjured a return to Barcelona to mark the 20th anniversary of his goal to clinch the Treble for Manchester United in the Nou Camp.

Manchester City and Tottenham were pitched into an all-Premier League quarter-final and Liverpool were paired with Porto, a team they beat 5-0 on the way to last year's final.

Not for the first time since he seized control at Old Trafford, however, Solskjaer produced the storyline as United were drawn against the Spanish champions and La Liga leaders, complete with the little genius that is Lionel Messi and arch-villain Luis Suarez.

It is a prestigious fixture and rich in nostalgia, which will serve up painful reminders of the lost finals of 2009 and 2011 and the lesson at the hands of Hristo Stoichkov and Romario in 1994, along with fonder memories of a Paul Scholes goal to win a semi-final in 2008 and a European Cup-Winners' Cup final in 1991.

But the image summoned by the prospect of Manchester United at the Nou Camp comes from 1999, with their Norwegian striker in his No 20 shirt, sliding on his knees to celebrate the winner, deep in stoppage time, to complete the most astonishing comeback in the final against Bayern Munich.

'It had to be,' smiled Solskjaer, who has done little wrong since he was appointed caretaker manager in December, losing only once in 13 Premier League games and reaching the FA Cup quarter-final and the last eight of the Champions League with a staggering 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain.

'I've had so many texts from friends saying this year is going to be the year we get through because of my number 20 and it being 20 years ago. We're off to the Nou Camp again.

'It was the biggest night I've had in football, of course. For all of us in that team, it was an unbelievable night. It's a great stadium — and of course we met them in the group stages as well that year, 3-3 both home and away.

'We want these games against the biggest clubs and the biggest teams. It's these games our fans and this club crave.'

United will play the first leg at home to avoid a fixture clash with Manchester City.

'I'm completely different to 99 per cent of managers,' said Solskjaer. 'I prefer to be away last, like we had against PSG. If you can get a decent result at home, then we know we can go away and hurt anyone, like we did in Paris.'

If United make it past Barcelona they face a possible semi-final against Liverpool who, despite Jurgen Klopp's caution, will be expected to brush aside Porto as they did last year.

'I could not be further away from thinking it's the best draw because it isn't, it is just the draw,' insisted Klopp. 'It's the opponent we have to prepare for and the first thing you have to do is make sure everybody respects the opponent the right way — and we will do that 100 per cent.'