AFTER a week of analysing Barcelona on their ipads, John O’Shea is more adamant than ever that it is the Catalans who should be worrying about United ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League final.
The Waterford native, 30, continued United’s defiant attitude to the Ryan Giggs controversy by storming through Tuesday’s mixed zone after being asked about his team-mate.
After securing a start in the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the final of 2009, O’Shea’s prospects do not look good this time around, with both Fabio and Rafael looking ahead of him in the pecking order.
Playing the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Juventus in Gary Neville’s testimonial on Tuesday night, when the likes of Wayne Rooney, Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rafael and Anderson were only given brief runs, also hardly suggested that he was being kept fresh for Wembley.
But O’Shea’s experience and versatility mean he is almost certain to make Alex Ferguson’s bench and the Ireland defender bristles slightly at the hype surrounding Pep Guardiola’s men.
United’s players have been reminded of Rome all week, as well as having to respond to questions about how much the excellent Barcelona have improved in the 24 months since.
But O’Shea feels the defeat in Italy is about as relevant as the semi-final the year before that, when United won 1-0 on aggregate before beating Chelsea in the final in Moscow.
“We’ve had three European Cup finals now in four years and success in the Premier League as well, we’re an experienced team but we definitely don’t want to experience that losing feeling that we had in Rome and hopefully it will be the same feeling as Moscow,” O’Shea said.
“We’ve looked at the tapes from when we beat Barcelona and when we lost, the time we beat them at Old Trafford, the draw in the Nou Camp.
“But we have to move on from that as well. We’ve obviously watched a lot of analysis from this season of Barcelona, the way teams have approached the game, and we hope that the plan we have in place will come to fruition on Saturday.
“You have to concentrate on yourselves first and foremost, making sure you can cause them some problems and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“At some point you’re going to have to defend very well and make sure the whole team is compact and in the correct positions. There will definitely be a good audience back home and hopefully we get the right result.”
For all United’s bullishness, O’Shea does admit he is impressed at Barcelona maintaining such excellence year after year.
“You have to admire the way they have maintained their performances throughout the last few seasons and remain successful,” he added. “Teams have tried lots of different ways to play them and things like that and we’ll be confident our plan will be the plan to win the game.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved