Football

Paul Pogba must step up his game against Barcelona


The French midfielder must replicate his domestic heroics at the continental stage against Barcelona…

Paul Pogba started to soar after Jose Mourinho was shown the door and Ole Gunner Solskjaer was handed over the wheel at Old Trafford. But in the recent past, the midfielder has regressed and his performances have started reminiscing his woes of the Mourinho era.

If he has been barely decent in the Premier League, then his continental exploits have been a major disappointment.

The 3-1 comeback in Paris was scripted in the absence of Pogba and against FC Barcelona in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League, he failed to rise to the occassion. Apart from a pass which opened up Barcelona’s defence but was snuffed out early by an alert Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the Frenchman had hardly any positive impact on the match.

The 26-year old is instrumental in United’s success and his performances have a direct bearing on the outcome. His sensational two-goal performance against Fulham fired United into the top four in February and his recent penalties against West Ham in the weekend helped United win. However, the performances left a lot to be desired.

Coming Tuesday, all eyes will be on the World Cup winner when United set sail at the Camp Nou to turn over the 1-0 deficit. Solskjaer would look to hit on the counter as he does not have the right kind of resources to beat Barcelona in their own game in their own backyard. And Pogba is likely to have the responsibility to ignite the counter attacks and make the best possible use of his wide range of passing skills to utilise the space behind Barcelona’s defence and unleash the likes of Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku.

With Scott McTominay handling the defensive responsibilities, Pogba will have the freedom to gallop forward when United enjoy spells of possession. He will be pulling the strings from an advanced area in the midfield and Pogba should find the right space and put the right weight behind the through balls for the strikers to work on.

One might argue that Pogba lacks a supporting cast which would help him blossom even more. But that does not absolve him from taking the game by the scruff of its neck and turn it into his team’s favour, given the quality he possesses.

The two goals against the Hammers would definitely boost his confidence when he takes the pitch against Barcelona. Now, it is time that he feeds on it and produce the kind of goods that would fire Manchester United to the last four of the Champions League after a seven-year hiatus.

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