Sitting in front of the back four would be Michael Carrick. He is the fulcrum of the United’s attack and the cool head who just keeps the ball moving. His first touch is immaculate, he passes with both feet and is usually well positioned to break up attacks. Against Barcelona his composure and passing ability would be desperately needed, especially in the first 60 minutes. During this period the Catalans are known to press intensely all over the pitch and his team-mates would look towards him to help them to retain possesion or even spread the ball to the wide areas to for the wingers to run on too. Carrick’s reliance on his defensive positioning rather than tackling (similar to Rio Ferdinand) to win back possession is a major plus for United. This is so because with interceptions he wins not only the ball but possession for his team and this is much better than the uncertainty that goes with tackling. On the subject of interception, Michael Cox wrote in an article, ‘”when the ball is intercepted) You’re immediately in possession, whereas after a tackle, the ball can run away to an opponent. And there’s more chance of launching a quick counter-attack, and transforming defence into attack swiftly.”
A criticism of Carrick is that he is not as effective when not given time on the ball and coming up against Barcelona he is definitely going to be pressed. Unlike his opposing counterpart, Xavi he does not have the evasive skills to fend off and get around players closing him down quickly.