Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique, has urged his teammates to be ruthless in the final third as they head into Wednesday’s Champions League first-leg tie against his former club, Manchester United.
Pique returns to Old Trafford wary of United’s historic psyche to ride out of adverse situations, and consequently wants Barcelona to totally annihilate them for safety sake.
‘You cannot leave Manchester United alive,’ said Pique. ‘If you can beat them scoring a lot of goals you have to do it because they have a great team and a great history.
‘I think the PSG tie is a great example. They have shown in second leg in Paris even though they played with a lot of young lads from the academy they qualified in the last minute. It’s a great example for us.
‘We have to be very concentrated from the first minute to the last minute of the tie, and we have to play at our best to qualify.
‘I expect a game where we have the ball and they will try and hit us on the counter-attack with fast strong players like Rashford and Lukaku. We have to be on our guard and look out for set-pieces from corners into the box.
‘They are an English side and they will try to take advantage of these opportunities. If we are focused, we can try and stop them.
‘Manchester United since from I was here have always been the biggest team in England. All the big sides go through good times and bad times and there are periods of transition.
‘The period of Sir Alex Ferguson was the best one and they’ll continue to be a big side. We hope during this period maybe they’ve not found that special ingredient to bring it back but let’s see.’
After spending four years in Manchester- winning the Premier League, and EFL cup- Pique left the club for Barcelona in 2008, and the defender says he’s relishing the chance to play again at his former home-ground after nearly 11 years.
‘Obviously it’s a very special game,’ he added. ‘This is where I went from being a youngster to a man. I learned a lot on and off the field from 17 to 21 I was here, had my first experiences playing games with great names.
‘I had some crazy times here as well. I left my family and friends and lived here on my own. You return a completely different person.
‘When the draw came out I was really pleased. I’ve returned to many places – Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham – and played at almost all of them, and the one that was left was Man United. It was a great source of excitement to come back.
‘It’s been a number of years. Some things have changed but many are similar… There is a sense of nostalgia. I was very young when I came here and it was all new to me. This time I’m wearing a different shirt, one I’ve worn always all my life and I try to win.
‘Old Trafford is something lovely because the fans are fantastic. It’s the same if it’s the Champions League, a Premier League game or playing against a fourth division side. The fans are always cheering if you lose or win. It’s a different culture.
‘You can see it both on and off the pitch, the fans are into their team. I’ve always said the English culture; we could learn a lot from them and one would be this instance.’