United star hopes to ‘minimise’ Messi threat


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Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is relishing the chance of testing himself against Lionel Messi but is well aware he is not the only threat in the Barcelona team.

United entertain the Catalan giants at Old Trafford on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. United are 3.75 to win, a Barca victory is 2.00 and a draw can be backed at 3.60.

Messi has 10 goals in his last six appearances for Barca across all competitions and eight goals in six Champions League games so far this term.

The task ahead of the United defence may appear daunting, but Smalling is looking forward to the chance of taking on Messi and Barcelona’s star-studded attack regardless.

“I’ve not played against him [Messi] competitively, personally, but in friendlies and pre-season we have,” Smalling told the club website.

“That’s someone else who I’m looking forward to playing against and hopefully minimising as many chances as possible, because we know what a world-class player he is. But it’s not just him; I think they’re a world-class team.

“We need to make sure that whatever game-plan we have – just like [in the previous round against] PSG – that we stick to it and everything falls into line. We know that we can give any team a right go.”

Messi is 3.75 to score first at Old Trafford and 13.00 to hit a hat-trick.

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