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Tactical masterclass

Michael Carrick reveals how one simple TRAINING DRILL allowed Man United to beat Barcelona in 2008

An unforgettable Paul Scholes wonderstrike was the highlight of the 2008 Champions League semi-final second leg but it turns out the victory was down to Carlos Queiroz

It’s a night Man United fans will never forget.

A trademark 25-yard wonderstrike from Paul Scholes breaks Barcelona hearts in 2008 as the two-legged Champions League semi-final ends 1-0 to the Red Devils on aggregate.

What a strike, you strawberry-blonde genius

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What a strike, you strawberry-blonde genius

United’s midfield maestro has taken the plaudits over the years for propelling his side to the final but Michael Carrick has revealed that somebody else deserves the credit.

Assistant manager Carlos Queiroz.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s best ever right-hand man apparently devised a training drill that allowed United to keep two clean sheets up against the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o.

Tactical geniuses at work

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Tactical geniuses at work

Speaking to Paul Merson on Sky Sports’ Fantasy Football Club, Carrick explained how Queiroz surprised the squad in the days prior to the first leg by dragging out two gym mats to the training pitch.

“We’d normally do sit-ups on them, but he’s put them on the pitch and slung them down,” he said.

“It was me and Scholesy in midfield and I think Rio and Wes Brown were centre-halves – and he’s put these two mats in between us, we’re thinking, ‘what’s he up to here?’

Carrick always trained best when he wore his favourite vest

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Carrick always trained best when he wore his favourite vest

“Literally for about five minutes he’s just said don’t let the ball get on those mats, so straight away you switch on and you’re blocking that space off, that’s where Barcelona, around the edge of the box, that’s where they wanted to get into, that space, that was how they played at the time.

“We played 4-4-2, two banks of four, blocked off that space, got a 0-0 draw at Barcelona and obviously managed to beat them at Old Trafford. Just little things like that make you think.”

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And that’s how two gym mats managed to negate the threat of arguably the best attacking unit in the world at the time.

Fair play to Queiroz for masterminding one of the most important victories in United’s recent history.

It was a cracking strike from Scholes though…