Chris Smalling has told Lionel Messi to “bring it on” ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League clash against Barcelona.
One of the greatest players of all time will grace the Old Trafford turf on Wednesday night as Barca visit in the first leg of a mouth-watering quarter-final clash.
Messi has netted 43 goals in his last 40 matches for Barcelona this season and stopping him would appear an unenviable task, yet Smalling is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s something to relish, I think,” the United centre-back said.
“This season I’ve been lucky enough to face (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Kylian) Mbappe and they’re all challenges that I think I definitely relish, and I think players at this club relish.
“I say bring it on. You work so hard to get into those Champions League places and we’re working now to get third this season.
“These are the ties we look forward to. All the hard work in the group stages, this is what it’s about. We players are all itching to be on that field and show what we can do.”
Three defeats from their last four matches hardly bode well for United, but they can draw confidence from their upturn under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and outstanding triumph at Paris St Germain.
“I think we’ve shown we’re a collective and with the work we’ve done over the past few months that result in performances against the best teams in the world,” said Smalling, who flourished against Mbappe in the second leg.
“So, we were all watching the draw before we went out to training and when we saw it was Barcelona you could see the smiles on people’s faces because it’s another challenge put in front of us and we’ll go head on.”