Barcelona vs Manchester United Preview

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The Champions League Quarter Finals second leg games begin tomorrow and none bigger than Barcelona vs Manchester United at the Nou Camp. Manchester United have a monster task to overcome their 1-0 home loss last Wednesday against a team who has not lost at home in the Champions League since 2013 but if anyone can do it, Manchester United can. Here's all you need to know:

Teams: Barcelona vs Manchester United
KO: 16th April 20:00
Location: Nou Camp
Managers: Ernesto Valverde and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Referee: Felix Brych

How have both teams fared since the first leg?
Both teams played on the Saturday and made many changes to the teams that played mid-week. Barcelona made ten changes with only Marc-Andre Ter Stegen left in the lineup. Despite having Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Arturo Vidal, the Catalan giants drew a blank against bottom-of-the-table side Huesca despite sending on Philippe Coutinho, Arthur and Jordi Alba to make an impact. Manchester United barely fared better as Ole made five changes with Martial, Jones, Rojo, Lingard and Mata all coming into the side and just about beat West Ham in another poor home performance. United seemed unable to score with the chances made lacking precision in the final pass or shot but nevertheless managed to get the win from a brace of penalties from Paul Pogba. United will hope the starting team that face Barcelona will have the right mentality on Tuesday. 

Team News:
Nemanja Matic and Alexis Sanchez have travelled with the squad but are likely to sit on the bench. Luke Shaw is suspended so the left back position will have to be filled by either Young or Darmian with Marcos Rojo suffering an injury against West Ham. Eric Bailly and Ander Herrera are still unavailable with long term injuries. Ousmane Dembele played 67 minutes against Huesca and should be available to play against United on Tuesday. Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic missed the Saturday game due to minor issues but should be available to play. 

Interesting Stats:
  • Manchester United have been very good away from home in Europe winning seven of their last ten games and only losing twice (to Valencia and Basel) - scoring 17 goals and keeping five clean sheets.
  • Romelu Lukaku has seven Champions League goals so far for Manchester United, more than any other current player at the club. 
  • Lionel Messi remains the favourite for the Golden Shoe with 33 league goals to his name and is Barcelona's top goalscorer this season with 43 goals in all competitions. To put that into perspective, United's top goalscorer is Paul Pogba with 16 goals...
  • David de Gea has only kept three clean sheets in eight Champions League appearances this season against Young Boys twice and Valencia at home but none in the knockout stages since drawing against Sevilla last season. 

Team Selection and Prediction:
De Gea saved United by denying Michail Antonio before the winning goal and is certain to start tomorrow. Lindelof and Smalling were very solid against Barcelona and should return as a defensive partnership. As much as it pains me to say, Ashley Young is probably going to play at right back and Dalot on the left. Perhaps Ole has seen how poor Young has been recently and play Dalot on the right and Darmian on the left. The Italian may be on his way out of Old Trafford but he is a solid defender and someone who United need in defending against Semedo and Messi on the right hand side. McTominay has to be back in after another excellent performance and Fred and Pogba should join him in the midfield three. As for the front three, it easily could be Lukaku, Rashford and Martial to counter with pace and power but I think Martial may be dropped after a below-par performance against West Ham and I think Lingard may play instead for his energy and high press. 

As for the prediction of the game, I remain optimistic that United can do it against a Barcelona side who were awful at Old Trafford. The Red Devils need to be more clinical and finish the chances they get as there wont be many. 

Predicted Team: De Gea, Young (c), Smalling, Lindelof, Dalot, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku

PREDICTED SCORE: 1-2 to United

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