Ten Hag 'emphasised the belief' to inspire Man Utd turnaround against Barca

By Sports Desk February 23, 2023

Erik ten Hag encouraged Manchester United to exude greater belief and courage prior to their inspired turnaround against Barcelona at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils came from behind to secure a dramatic 4-3 victory over the runaway LaLiga leaders on aggregate and book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

United endured a difficult first half as they fell behind to Robert Lewandowski's penalty and registered just two shots on target, while they could have trailed 2-0 on the night had Casemiro not thwarted Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie on the stroke of half-time. 

Ten Hag made a substitute at the break for a second successive match, having also done so against Leicester City on Sunday, introducing Antony in favour of Wout Weghorst.

It proved an inspired move as the hosts appeared invigorated upon the contest's resumption. Fred levelled the tie, before Antony struck the winner 17 minutes from time.

"I emphasised the belief. It was too flat [in the] first half," Ten Hag told reporters his post-match press conference. "We had our spare man Casemiro [who] we didn't use enough. Aaron Wan-Bissaka had a lot of space on the right side, we didn't use [him] enough.

"I think in the pressing, we could be more brave. So, that is what we emphasised. The second was to make the sub with Antony, who brought more speed in the play and who brings belief on the pitch.

"In the squad, you need different types and profiles and when your time is there, you have to be ready and contribute with the team. You can't win trophies with 11 [players], especially not nowadays. You need that squad and rotation.

"This is another step because when you can beat Barcelona – one of the best teams in this moment in Europe – your belief can be really strong, because then I think you are able to beat anyone.

"It was a magnificent night. I think it is brilliant when you can beat Barcelona – eight points ahead of Real Madrid in LaLiga – and we have seen this week Real Madrid playing [in their 5-2 win [over Liverpool]. We did a magnificent performance."

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