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UCL Wednesday preview: Barca wary of Man Utd size

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Final

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (C) is challenged by Ryan Giggs (L) and Michael Carrick of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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If Manchester United is to get past Barcelona, the likely victim on multiple levels will be Lionel Messi.

The Argentine megastar gets fouled in every match, and that’s certain to happen on Wednesday at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League.

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But Barcelona center back Gerard Pique and manager Ernesto Valverde is concerned about another kind of physical play, and that’s when Barcelona is taken out of the run of play.

“We have to be on our guard and look out for set pieces like corners, and crosses into the box,” Valverde said. “They are an English side, so they are strong, tall and will take advantage of opportunities. We have to try and avoid those situations and if we are on our game and we are focused, we can try to stop them.”

Pique is a former Manchester United youngster and is happy to be going back to Old Trafford and matching wits with one of his former teammates: Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“I was 17 and he was one of the veterans. He had problems with injuries but you could see his quality in training. I’m glad to see him doing well as coach at Old Trafford and it will be a tough content but we hope we can win,” he said.

The other match sees further Manchester United connections, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus head to upstart Ajax.

Ronaldo will be start for The Old Lady, but Ajax will need to be wary of in-form Moise Kean and the solid play of youngster Daniele Rugani.

“We are all happy that he’s with us for tomorrow night’s game as he’s a very important player,” Rugani said. “I’m in a team of champions here and I’m very happy.”

To come full circle, there’s a Barcelona connection with Ajax; If you’re watching that match, be sure to keep a close eye on Frenkie de Jong before the Dutch youngster makes his big move to the Camp Nou this summer. He’s special.

Follow @NicholasMendola