While keeping his cards close to his chest, Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag insisted he has an “idea” that will help them get the better of Barcelona in their blockbuster clash in the Europa League on Thursday.
United and Barca, two of the most successful sides in world football, put on quite the show in the first leg of their knockout stage playoff last week, despite playing in a competition neither are normally found in.
The 2-2 draw was exhilarating, typifying how much both teams have improved under their respective managers. Ten Hag is not resting on his laurels and is relishing keeping United competing for four trophies, with a League Cup final to come on Sunday.
“What we do different you will see tomorrow (Thursday),” Ten Hag told a news conference on Wednesday.
“We have an idea. We all want to play big games. When we were young, we dreamed of it. We are really enjoying it, we are looking forward. We have to give our best.
“It is not about us getting credit, it is about trophies. The next focus is always on the next game. We have to keep in the same mindset that every day we want to give a better version of ourselves.”
United finished with their lowest-ever Premier League points tally last season (58) and have not won a trophy since 2017, but Ten Hag has quickly restored hope, with the 20-time top flight champions just five points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Ten Hag also added that captain Harry Maguire and Brazilian forward Antony have returned to fitness and could feature against Barca, but French striker Anthony Martial is still out.
Barcelona will be without some of their regular starters, including playmaker Pedri and forward Ousmane Dembele because of injuries.
Coach Xavi also won’t be able to count on suspended Gavi. Muscle injuries have sidelined Pedri (right leg) and Dembele (left leg).
Xavi could use forwards Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati to play in attack with Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, or add Sergi Roberto to an attacking midfield position.