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Barcelona will host Manchester United at the Camp Nou as the hope to defend their slender 1-0 lead from the first leg. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the ground where his heroics led United to the triumph in 1999. But this time, he’s in the manager’s seat.
Luke Shaw’s own goal means that Barcelona will lead going into the second leg. Last week’s tie at Old Trafford followed a set pattern, as Barcelona dominated the ball. They had 67% possession in the game, as United failed to register a single shot on target. Something similar should be seen at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barcelona are comfortably ahead in La Liga, and they are 9 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid. They drew 0-0 against Huesca at the weekend, but that was majorly due to the weakened team. The likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, and Luis Suarez were not in the squad, and many other players were rested as well. It was a wise move by Ernesto Valverde, as the league title is all but wrapped up.
Valverde was guilty of over-exerting his players last season, as he failed to rotate. That brought on the exit at the hands of Roma in the quarter-finals. Barcelona are unbeaten in 30 Champions League home games, which is a remarkable record. Their last loss was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern in the semi-finals in 2013.
Manchester United will be the underdogs going into the game, but that did not deter them in the last round. They came back to beat PSG 3-1 in Paris, and their fans will hope for a similar away performance. The deficit is half this time, and the squad is in better shape as well. United beat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday, as Paul Pogba scored a brace.
They are sixth in the league, and in the race for a top-four finish. Winning the Champions League will also hand them qualification, but that seems unlikely at this juncture. Since the win in Paris, United have lost three of their next six games. The win over West Ham was not convincing as well.
Injuries and Suspensions
Solskjaer still does not have a full squad at his disposal. Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic are still out, which weakens their midfield considerably. Fred will start again, along with youngster Scott McTominay. Marcus Rashford will also start after he didn’t feature on Saturday. Luke Shaw will serve his suspension, and Anthony Martial should return to the lineup after he came off the bench in the first leg.
Barca doesn’t have many injury concerns, and Philippe Coutinho could be backed to retain his place ahead of Ousmane Dembele.
Barcelona vs Manchester United Prediction
The home side are the favorites, and they will look to keep possession. United will proceed cautiously, as going too hard will open them at the back. A close game should be seen, with total goals less than 3.5. Barcelona will progress to the next round, albeit by a narrow margin.
Total Goals: Under 3.25 @ 1.87 at Pinnacle Sports
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