Chris Smalling says 'bring it on' to Lionel Messi challenge
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Messi will be "difficult to stop but it's never impossible", ahead of Man Utd vs Barcelona tie in Champions League
By James Simpson
Last Updated: 10/04/19 6:33am
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says "bring it on" when asked about the prospect of facing Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
United will host Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday with the Catalan giants looking to reach the semi-final stage for the first time since the 2014-15 season, when they went on to win the competition.
This year, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has managed 43 goals and 21 assists in all competitions and is playing some of his finest football.
Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid on Saturday to move 11 points clear at the top of the La Liga table, and they have not lost a tie in Europe, winning five games and drawing three.
Despite Messi and the Barca team looking in formidable form, United defender Smalling is embracing the chance to face an all-time great.
"It's something to relish I think," said the United centre-back.
"This season, we have been lucky enough to face [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Kylian] Mbappe and they are all challenges that I definitely relish and I think players at this club relish.
"I say bring it on."
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Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoed Smalling's sentiment, saying: "What kind of plan can you have to stop one of the best players in the world?
"As Chris says, we are looking forward to it, we relish the opportunity but this season, we have played against Juventus with Ronaldo, PSG with Mbappe, we've had Chelsea and [Eden] Hazard.
"[Messi] is a fantastic player. And he will go down in history as one of the best individual players ever. I have to say - he will be difficult to stop but it's never impossible.
"It's not like it is Messi against Manchester United. [Luis] Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Ivan] Rakitic, [Arturo] Vidal, there are so many players we cannot just focus on one player. We know we have to play against 11 of them."