Manchester United host Barcelona in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League
Quarter-finals, first leg
Venue: Old Trafford
Kickoff: 12:30 Am IST
The last time Manchester United faced the Catalans in the Champions League, the Blaugranas delivered a masterclass as a Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona taught United a brutal footballing lesson. The times have since changed. United have suffered a huge drop-off ever since Sir Alex left and have been struggling for a way back ever since.
It’s only the second time the men in red have managed to reach the Quarter-final stage since 2011 after crashing out to Sevilla in the Round of 16 last season.FC Barcelona, on the other hand, have struggled a lot in Europe in recent years. After winning their second treble back in 2014-15, Barcelona have not made it past the quarter-final stage in three consecutive years – with a shock defeat to Roma last season as they blew a 4-1 home lead going into the second leg.
Even with a mediocre record in the Champions League, FC Barcelona are the clear favourites in the tie. Having already reached the Copa Del Rey final, Barcelona have also pretty much wrapped up the league with their latest 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid and are on course for a historic third treble.
Manchester United, meanwhile, were humbled 2-1 by Wolves the last time they were in action. But you can never write off Solskjaer’s United as PSG found out the hard way with United overturning a 2-0 home deficit in the Round of 16 tie.
Red Devils star midfielder Pogba will be back in the squad after sitting out the game in Paris through suspension. Marcos Rashford and Ander Hererra should both be back into the squad after missing out on their loss to Wolves due to minor injuries. Solskjaer will be without Matteo Darmian, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Alexis Sanchez as they nurse their injuries.
Valverde will not be able to count on Ousmane Dembele to make the starting XI as he struggles to get a medical green light in time for the tie. There are no other notable absentees as Valverde will have a fully healthy squad at his disposal at the Theatre of Dreams; Rafinha being the only exceptions who is out for the season through his ACL injury.
Manchester United (4-3-3):
De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Matic, Pogba, Hererra; Rashford, Lukaku, Lingard
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Coutinho
Manchester United: W-W-L-L-W-L
FC Barcelona: W-W-W-W-D-W
SCORE PREDICTION: Manchester United 1 - 2
FC Barcelona It’d be unusual to predict anything but a Barcelona win given the kind of form Lionel Messi is in. Luis Suarez will be determined to end his scoring drought away in the Champions league; expect him to get on the scoresheet at least once. United should get at least one with the Manchester side perfectly set-up to play their counter-attacking game against a possession-heavy side.