The Champions League kicked into overdrive as it returned last week, but now we enter the stage where teams get no second chances.
Manchester United will travel to the Nou Camp knowing they will need to replicate their famous win against PSG in France last time out. However, Barcelona will be looking to finish off the job that they started at Old Trafford.
Barcelona vs Manchester United Preview & Form
Barcelona were by no means at their best on their trip to England, and it could be argued they were fortunate to escape with a one-goal advantage. However, the best teams always find a way to win when they aren’t playing at their best; and that’s what they were able to do.
It wasn’t as entertaining of a game as the neutrals were hoping for and the match-defining moment came when a Luis Suarez header was diverted into his own goal by a helpless Luke Shaw.
Lionel Messi endured a difficult night on a ground that he is yet to score at. He suffered a minor head injury after a collision with Chris Smalling in the first half, and he never looked the same after that incident.
Whether that was down to an injury or the job that United were doing on him remains to be seen. But Barca will head back to Spain knowing that they have one foot already in the next round; all they need to do is avoid defeat at the Nou Camp. They will need to put in a much better performance for other top European teams to fear playing them though.
United played well, but they looked short of ideas when they got into the final third of the field. On the two occasions when they did they spurned wonderful opportunities; something that you just can’t afford to do at this stage of the competition.
The first chance fell to Diogo Dalot after an inch-perfect cross from Marcus Rashford, but he attempted to head the ball across the box to set up Paul Pogba instead of going for goal; which was the easier option. The second chance fell to Rashford when he miscued a volley from 12 yards out and sent the ball nearer to the corner flag than the Barcelona net.
The Red Devils will point to their performance away at PSG in the last round as an example of what they can do when their back is against the wall. However, this is a very different kind of challenge.
United do have a memorable comeback victory to their name at the Nou Camp, and their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a critical factor in that fixture. The Norwegian came off the bench to score the thrilling winner in the Champions League final in 1999; in a game where United was written off. Surely history can’t repeat itself?
Barcelona vs Manchester United Tips
It looks incredibly unlikely that United will be able to turn this around. Barcelona have an incredible record at the Nou Camp in Europe and haven’t lost a home game in the competition in each of the last three seasons.
However, this Barca defence will give United chances so both teams will score; but unfortunately United will come up just short.
Tip: Both teams to score