Manchester United no match for Barcelona, says Gerard Deulofeu
Watford's former Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu is convinced the Catalans will win their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester United, saying the La Liga leaders are on a different level to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.
United host the first leg tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the teams' first official meeting since Barca brushed United aside to win 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final. The return leg at the Nou Camp is next Wednesday (Singapore time).
The English Premier League side have shown a marked improvement in form since Solskjaer succeeded Jose Mourinho as coach in December, although they have struggled of late, losing three of their last four outings in all competitions.
"United have improved, but Barca are the clear favourites. If they play even slightly well, they will win the tie," Deulofeu told Spanish newspaper Marca yesterday.
"United are at a good level, but they are not on the same level as Barca. If it becomes an end-to-end game, United will be very dangerous. But Barca will know how to deal with that because they dominate matches and are always have control."
For Deulofeu, who came through Barca's academy and had several stints in the team before opting to leave the club last year to join Watford, United will be no match for Lionel Messi and his teammates.
"All you need to do is watch them play to see they are the favourites," he said.
SUAREZ A HEADACHE
"They (are) in a great moment of form and they can count on the best player around (Messi) who can fix any situation."
Just as unplayable on his day is former Liverpool star Luis Suarez. When Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is asked about the threat posed by Suarez, the description he oftens reverts to is "un dolor de cabeza".
In four seasons at Anfield, he hit 82 goals in 133 games, a ratio better than both Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie at Arsenal, Alan Shearer at Newcastle and Didier Drogba at Chelsea.
At Barcelona, who paid Liverpool just over 80 million euros (S$122m) to sign him in 2014, Suarez is Messi's provider, runner and foil but has managed to perform the role without losing sight of what he can bring too.
In five years at Barca, Suarez's La Liga tally reads 16, 40, 29, 25 and 20 goals, the last still with seven games to play.
Messi's partnership with the Uruguay international, a close friend, is extraordinary too.
Together, they have 66 goals in all competitions this season, 43 for Messi and 23 for Suarez, while in the league they have 53, more than every team in the division, except Real Madrid.
There have been barren spells, often in the late summer months, when fitness has been lacking, and in the Champions League, where Suarez faces United hunting only his second goal in 17 games.
He has not scored away from Nou Camp in the tournament since September 2015.
"It's one of those things, a coincidence," said Valverde.
But few can dispute Suarez's part in what is now one of the most dominant eras in the history of Spanish football. - AFP, REUTERS
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