Manchester United fly to Catalonia to take on FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. The Red Devils will start on the back foot after a 1-0 defeat to the Spanish giants at Old Trafford. However, under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, anything is possible, as seen in the historic comeback against Paris Saint Germain at Le Parc de Princes.
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United can be proud of their performance in the first leg as they seemed to dominate much of the second half, however, it was their inefficiency in the final third that halted their attacking threat. Solskjær’s tactical changes were helpful and effective in nullifying the threat of Lionel Messi for the bulk of the game.
The midfield tandem of Scott McTominay and Fred worked well as they controlled and dictated the tempo of play from the middle of the park. The duo are expected to pair up with Paul Pogba in a midfield three for Wednesday night’s clash.
Solskjær has opted for experience over youth in his twenty-one man side. The like of Angel Gomes, James Garner, Tahith Chong, and Mason Greenwood have all been left behind as Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian and Nemanja Matic are welcomed back. This could prove to be a costly decision as both Sanchez and Darmian have struggled for game time and Matic’s form has been largely inconsistent. Luke Shaw‘s yellow card means he will be suspended for this game and will likely be replaced by Ashley Young in the left back role.
Barcelona are expected to set up in a 4-3-3 almost identical to the way they lined up at Old Trafford. Having analysed Messi’s game and style first hand in Manchester, United will be more aware of his playing style and movement. Messi was rested in the 0-0 draw against Huesca, and so he is expected to be back at his best.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Dalot; Fred, McTominay, Pogba; Lukaku, Lingard, Rashford.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Lenglet, Semedo; Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur; Coutinho, Suarez, Mesis.
Both sides bring an X-factor to the table, which makes predicting this game all the more challenging. Messi has the ability to single-handedly change the game whilst United’s mentality of ‘never say die’ increases their chances of heading to the semi-finals.
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