UEFA Champions League
Kick Off: Thursday, 11 April at 12.30 AM IST
Stadium: Old Trafford
Free UEFA Champions League Picks Manchester United vs. FC Barcelona
It’s the clash of the titans in UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, as FC Barcelona visit Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. This is the first Champions League meeting between Barcelona and Manchester United since the 2011 final, which Barcelona won 3-1 at Wembley. The Red Devils stunned PSG in the second leg of the tie to place a quarter final spot which looked unlikely after the first leg. Barcelona thrashed Lyon 5-1 at the Camp Nou to book a spot in this years quarter-finals of the Champions League. This is Barcelona’s 17th Champions League quarter-final appearance, a joint-record with Bayern Munich; they have qualified for an 12th successive season, a competition record.
United wil have their task cut out when they play against the Catalan giants on Wednesday, having suffered a defeat at the hands of Wolves in the Premier League. Manchester United might have defeated PSG in the last 16 but their record in knockout stages remain poor – winning only two of their last 11 Champions League knockout ties (W2 D3 L6), failing to win either of their quarter-final games in the 2013-14 season under David Moyes against Bayern Munich. United fans will be happy knowing their side’s performance in this year’s Champions League – victories at Juventus and PSG have been the highlight so far them. Although the victory over the Italian giants came under the Mourinho’s reign and since his departure Manchester United have looked a different side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as a full time manager of Manchester United and his team face a tough task against Messi and Suarez. Manchester United record at home this season has been good but they haven’t been able to secure clean sheets consistently and Barca will look to exploit their opponents while moving forward. Marcus Rashford is expected to play in the starting lineup after training with the squad. Matic and Andre Herrera await fitness tests before the match. Defenders Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailey are unavailable due to injuries.
Away goals are more important when playing first leg of the tie away from home – Barcelona have progressed from 79% of their Champions League knockout ties when playing the first leg away from home (23 of 29), compared to just 33% when playing the first leg at home (4 of 12). Barcelona go into the match as the favourites but Ernesto Valverde side should not be overconfident – Barca failed to score at Lyon in the last 16 and if they’re unable to add an away goal in the first leg they might be in trouble, as United do have the fire power in attacking department. The Catalans have been overly dependent on Lionel Messi but the Argentinian superstar has failed to score in any of his last 11 Champions League quarter-final appearances for Barcelona; since netting against PSG in April 2013, the forward has attempted 49 shots without success at this stage of the competition. Ousmane Dembele is still to recover from an injury despite travelling with the squad. Meanwhile, former Manchester United player Pique and Clement Lenglet are expected to retain their places even though Umtiti has recovered from injury.
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Manchester United have lost two home Champions League matches so far this season, losing to Juventus and PSG – they’ve only lost three in one season once previously, doing so during the 1996-97 campaign, with current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featuring in all three defeats.
Manchester United have never lost a home European match against Barcelona (W2 D2 L0), with this is the first meeting between the sides at Old Trafford since the second leg of the 2007-08 Champions League semi-final, a 1-0 win for the Red Devils.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored 22 Champions League goals in 30 appearances against English teams – more than any other player in the history of the competition.
Since Chelsea eliminated Barcelona in the 2011-12 semi-final, English teams have been eliminated in 10 of their last 11 Champions League knockout ties against Spanish sides – the exception was Leicester City against Sevilla in the last 16 in 2016-17.
Manchester United 2 – 2 FC Barcelona