Manchester United will face an uphill task when they host Barcelona at Old Trafford in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals.
United booked a place in the final eight after trouncing French football giants PSG in an epic 3-1 comeback last month.
A brace from Lionel Messi and goals from Philippe Coutino, Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele in the win over Lyon 5-1, earned Barcelona a chance to sail through to the final eight in the Champions League.
Barca’s form is a nightmare for United
Barcelona’s form and experience in the field will be a nightmare for the Red Devils who will need to put all their ‘arsenal’ in place if they dream of stopping the Spanish Champions.
All key Barca players are expected to take part in the competition and they are likely to cause a big trouble for United.
By looking at the past performances of both teams, Ole Gunnars’ side stands no chance against the Catalans. Barcelona have won all their past six matches where they trounced Real Betis 4-1 in their last match. United have won only thrice in their past six matches with two successive losses against Arsenal and the Wolves.
Odds in favor of Barcelona
The odds also appear to be in agreement with the fact that Barca are the favorites to win.
According to the bookies, Barcelona have a 2.00 chance to win while the Red Devils’ chance of winning stands at 3.50. The possibility of a draw stands at 3.50.
The slim difference between the odds only means one thing, the clash at Old Trafford will be highly competitive and tough for both Barca and Ole Gunnar’s side.
Battle of wits between managers
United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed to turn things around at Old Trafford since the exit of Jose Mourinho. The Norwegian coach ‘rescued’ United whose performance was on the brink of collapse and resurrected their competitive ability which has since boosted the morale of players and hope of their loyal fans across the globe.
A win against Barcelona next month will be a big boost to his flourishing career and could cement his title as EPL’s ‘wonder’ coach.
Valverde, who took over from Luis Enrique in 2017 as a manager, led Barcelona to the La Liga and Copa del Rey double during his first season in charge. He will be seeking to show his rivals that he is still the best.
Messi to cause trouble
Manchester United will need to put up a tough fight in order to stop Barca’s striker Lionel Messi.
The Red Devils suffered a blow after reports emerged that Messi will take part in that match after an injury scare. His presence means that Solskjaer’s side will have to put their A-game in place, given Messi’s incredible goal-scoring ability. United’s defense will need to be careful and prevent Messi from penetrating them.
Lionel Messi returned to Barcelona training on Wednesday, four days after he was ruled out of their game with Morocco as a precautionary measure to prepare him for the Champions League clash. Messi had suffered a groin injury in the match between Argentina and Venezuela where Argentina suffered a 3-1 shock defeat.
Home advantage could play out
Solskjaer’s side could push for a win as the game will be played in their home turf. The support of the fans could help them beat their rivals.
As much as the bookies are betting on Barcelona to emerge victorious, the Red Devils could pull an upset in that game based on their comeback against PSG in the last-16 tie.
Photo by André Zahn via wikicommons (CC SA 2.0)