Barcelona vs. Manchester United (1-0 agg)
Champions League: Tuesday 16-04-2019 at 20:00 UST (Camp Nou)
Odds: Barcelona: 1.35, Draw: 5.50, Manchester United: 9.00
Free Champions League picks Barcelona vs. Manchester United
Barcelona welcome Manchester United at the Camp Nou for the second leg of their quarterfinal. The Blaugrana comfortably won the first confrontation 1-0, where they didn’t allow one shot on target by the Mancunians. They come into Tuesday’s game as clear favourites, especially when seeing their recent dynamic. Indeed, Barça haven’t lost a game since January, against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey. The Catalans have, furthermore, won seven of their last ten Liga games. As a result, they have a comfortable nine points gap with second-placed Atletico and should win the title in May. Barcelona are nevertheless more realistic and perhaps less extravagant that they have been in the past. Indeed, despite their domination at Old Trafford, they created very little and had an xG of only 0.7. It seemed that their tactic was more to control possession and tempo rather than score as many away goals as possible. Barcelona do have the talent to score, obviously. For instance, in la Liga, they have scored 81 goals, 26 more than Real Madrid. They should qualify given the difference of level with Manchester United.
Manchester United‘s euphoria since changing managers has settled in the past month. Indeed, they had a remarkable run of 14 of 17 games won in all competitions. Since then, however, the Red Devils have lost four of their last six games. Their dynamic had suffered a first break in the first leg of their PSG confrontation. However, it truly stopped against Arsenal in March, when they lost 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Their struggles have especially manifested offensively. The Mancunians averaged 2.3 goals between mid-December and March and have averaged only 1 goal since. Their impressive form might, arguably, have been a combination of an advantageous calendar and luck against bigger teams. An example of this is their second leg win against PSG, 1-3. They were dominated throughout the game. Indeed, they only had 28% of possession and shot five times in the 90 minutes. Additionally, they were offered a contestable penalty in the 92nd minute and benefitted from uncharacteristic mistakes by PSG’s defence. Manchester do have quality but will have to show more than in the first leg to qualify.
Ernesto Valverde rested many players against Huesca (0-0) ahead of Tuesday’s game. The Spanish tactician should therefore have his strongest squad out. The Blaugrana should line-up in their usual 4-3-3 with Ter Stegen in goals. The defensive line from right to left will probably be composed of Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet and Alba. In the midfield, Rakitic, Busquets and Arthur should start and hope to control possession again. The trio’s chemistry has been a key for Barça’s success this season. Finally, the front three should be quite fluid in terms of position but will be composed of Messi, Suarez and Coutinho. Lionel Messi‘s season has yet again been bewildering. The Argentinian scored 41 goals and assisted 15 times in 36 Champions League and la Liga games. He will definitely shine in this game.
Solksjaer will not be able to count on Luke Shaw on Tuesday as the English left-back is suspended. The Norwegian should compose his team in a 3-5-2 to limit Barcelona’s midfield’s influence. The three centre-backs will probably be Lindelöf, Smalling and Jones unless Bailly is called into action. Dalot might replace Shaw as left wing-back, with Young covering the right. McTominay was impressive in the first leg. The inexperienced player did a decent job of covering Messi and might start again for this ingrate task. Pogba and Matic should complete the midfield three. In attack, Solskjaer should align rapid forwards to capitalise on counter-attacks. As a result, Rashford and Martial could be preferred to Lukaku.
Free Champions League schedule Manchester United vs. Barcelona
Barcelona have better talent and a clearer tactical organisation than Manchester United. Furthermore, they have the advantage of playing at home, where they haven’t lost since November. The Blaugrana should dominate the Red Devils and win this game comfortably.
PICK: Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United