Manchester United will take on Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal. We take a look at how Man Utd could upset the Catalan giants.
Manchester United faces a huge task in the Champions League later tonight as the side hosts Barcelona.
United’s form of late is a major cause of worry for the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Since Manchester United’s miraculous victory against PSG last month, the club’s form has only gone downhill. The Reds have lost three of their four games across all competitions since, which includes a loss in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup.
Barcelona, meanwhile, took a huge step towards securing their second consecutive La Liga title last weekend. In a potential title-decider, Barca beat the second-placed Atletico Madrid 2-0, taking an 11-point lead over Simeone’s side.
As the teams with two considerably contrasting forms meet each other in the quarterfinal tonight, the odds justifiably – and heavily favour Valverde’s men. However, we take a look at why Manchester United might just pull out a stunning comeback over Barcelona.
Solskjaer knows his ‘big-game rule’
Under the Norwegian manager, Manchester United secured victories against Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and of course, Paris Saint-Germain.
In each of these games, Solskjaer played with a defensive mindset. However, the side’s accuracy in the counter-attack was brilliant as Manchester United gained significant victories. United’s victory against PSG is, perhaps, the best example of how to go against Barcelona.
Solskjaer had no issues conceding possession to PSG in the second leg of the tie. The host side maintained 72% of the ball possession, but the quick counter-attacking breaks from the Manchester United attackers proved too hot to handle for PSG. Lukaku forced Gianluigi Buffon to make mistakes, thus helping United achieve victory.
While it can be argued that Manchester United played without 10 first-team stars in the second leg, the side played in a similar fashion in its last Champions League tie against Barcelona. Paul Scholes’ thundering strike made the sole difference across the two legs, as United shut down the Barca attack with an incredible defensive performance.
Barcelona’s quarterfinal woes:
Barcelona haven’t been at their best in the Champions League in the last few years. The side lost in the quarterfinals in each of their last three Champions League campaigns.
The Catalan side conceded a three-goal lead to Italian side Roma last year, while in their previous two campaigns, Barca was ousted by Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
While relying on Barcelona to choke is silly, the Champions League is a different ball game. Lionel Messi has been in the form of his life, but can the other Barca players step up if Manchester United produces a tight defensive performance?
Paul Pogba hasn’t been the same for Manchester United since meeting Marco Verratti in the first leg against PSG.
The Italian midfielder closed him efficiently in the game, and things went worse for Pogba when he was red-carded in the final stages of the game. He failed to step up in the last few games against Wolves, Watford and Arsenal as well.
While Pogba came under intense scrutiny for his comments about a Real Madrid move, this might be his best chance at redemption and winning the support of the Old Trafford crowd again. There’s no bigger motivation than playing against one of the best sides in European club football. With fellow midfielders, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic set to miss the game, Paul Pogba needs to step up big time tonight.
Rashford, meanwhile, will be the key to Manchester United’s hopes in the game. The English youngster boasts of a fiery pace, which could be an issue for the comparatively slow Barcelona’s defence. Like in the game against PSG, Rashford will be required to press to force mistakes on Barcelona.
How Twitter reacted..
United squad vs Barcelona:
De Gea, Romero, Grant
Rojo, Dalot, Jones, Smalling, Young, Shaw, Lindelof
Pogba, Pereira, Fred, Mata, Garner, Lingard, McTominay
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) April 10, 2019
Mourinho: “United this season was capable to win against Juventus and against PSG why not to do it against Barcelona. Barca will be aware of that, will respect United and Old Trafford. Messi will want to leave his footprint in a mythical stadium.” #mufc [RT]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) April 10, 2019
Manchester United or Barcelona?? Your Predictions??
ME: Manchester United 3-0 Barcelona
— Pretty Amminah (@PrettyAmmina) April 9, 2019
The first leg is scheduled to start at 12:30 PM IST. Take a look at the Dream11 prediction for the game here.