Two European heavyweights will face off at Old Trafford when Manchester United host Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
United produced a stunning comeback in the last round to overcome Paris Saint-Germain. The French side won 2-0 at Old Trafford, which left United with work to do in the second leg. A memorable night followed in Paris as they won 3-1 to progress on the away goals rule. Marcus Rashford buried a late penalty which sent them to the quarter-finals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently in a race for finishing in the top four in the Premier League. His arrival sparked an incredible run of results, but their form has petered down somewhat. Solskjaer was appointed permanently last month, but he needs to improve his side’s league position to brand this season a ‘success.’
United are sixth in the Premier league, and they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by three points. They lost their last game, a 2-1 defeat to Wolves in the league. United bowed out tamely previous season in the Champions League after a home defeat to Sevilla. The Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that some other European nights would be replicated instead of that one.
Barcelona will go into the tie as favorites, as Ernesto Valverde has impressed for the second season running. His side holds an 11-point lead at the top of the La Liga, and the Catalans are on course for a second straight title. They beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 on Saturday, which has all but sealed the domestic triumph.
Lyon were their prey in the Round of 16, and Barcelona thrashed them 5-1 in the second leg to progress. Barcelona’s main aim this season has been the Champions League, and even the customarily subdued Lionel Messi has acknowledged it. Messi has been the driving force as always for them, and he has scored 33 league goals already for them.
Barcelona were knocked out by Roma last season in embarrassing fashion, and they are keen to wipe out that loss. Their last Champions League triumph came in 2015, and they have not reached the final since. But their record against English opposition is promising. Out of the previous eight two-legged ties, with Premier League opposition, Barcelona have lost just one. That loss was against Chelsea in 2012.
United have a host of injuries to deal with. Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera are doubtful for the game, as is Alexis Sanchez. Paul Pogba will return from his suspension. Barcelona will welcome Ousmane Dembele into the squad, and Philippe Coutinho could drop to the bench.
Manchester United vs Barcelona Prediction
Barcelona are the side in form, and they will go into the tie as slight favorites. The last time these two faced off at Old Trafford was in 2008 when United prevailed. Valverde’s side will look to play their game, and the likes of Messi and Suarez should make the difference. Expect the total goals to be under 2.5 in this one.
Total Goals: Under 2.75 @ 1.88 at Pinnacle Sports