Barcelona host Manchester United at the Nou Camp for their quarter final return leg, having won the previous game 0-1 at Old Trafford. The Spanish champions will want to avoid a similar fate to PSG, who suffered a magnificent, albeit lucky, “remontada” at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in the previous round.
Ernesto Valverde has a world class squad and is almost invincible at home but he should still be prepared for a huge fight. In this article, The Overhead dwells into why this might not be a straightforward game for the Catalans.
Manchester United have proven resourceful when they needed a big win away from home recently. In fact, a case is to be made for the fact that the Mancunians have played better away from home this year, especially in cup competitions.
United have beaten Juventus (1-2 UCL Group Stage), PSG (1-3 UCL Round of 16), Arsenal (FA Cup 4th Round) and Chelsea (FA Cup 5th Round) away from home. All those four teams were considered superior to United when they faced off and still lost at home.
United have shown they can be scrappy against better opposition. Wins looked in the bag for Juve and PSG but United showed amazing efficiency in chance-to-goal conversion rate. They managed three goals from five shots in Paris. Against Barca, they only need two goals and can even afford to concede one. If they manage to score early like in Paris, suddenly Barcelona are no longer in control of the tie.
Even though United managed to stifle Valverde’s men in the first leg, courtesy of “mad dog” Scott McTominay, they did not manage to trouble Ter Stegen at all. Zero shots on target. It is improbable this occurs in a second consecutive Champions League game.
Barca’s 2018 Trauma
Speaking of PSG’s remontada defeat, Barcelona had their own traumatic experience last year. Up 4-1 in their quarter final tie against AS Roma, they capitulated in Italy, losing 3-0 and going out on away goals.
The one away goal conceded at the home in the tie somehow kept AS Roma alive. United only need a 1-2 win to go through or a 1-0 win to drag it out to extra time. It does not sound as daunting as Roma’s feat last year.
Gerard Pique mentioned the importance of not leaving United alive after the game in England. In that sense, they did not succeed. United are at a big disadvantage but still very well alive.
Champions League Magic
Solskjaer’s best night of Champions League football came at the Nou Camp. Down 1-0 early on in the 1999 final, Ferguson’s men won 2-1 in the dying moments of the game. A similar scoreline would take United through. Solskjaer talks all the time about channeling the spirit of 1999 and it could very well be at the same Nou Camp that his team somehow deliver a magical, performance-of-the-season win.
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All that being said, Barcelona could very run riot tomorrow. They have pretty much everybody from their squad available and rested their whole first team at the weekend. United on the other hand played their full team in a poor game at home and were lucky to beat West Ham, thanks to two Pogba penalties. On top of that, Luke Shaw is suspended for the return leg, meaning Young or Rojo will likely deputize on the left. United fans are probably having nightmares about Messi tormenting one of these two.
Regardless, neutrals and football lovers will hope United put up a real fight and produce a delightful game.
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