UEFA Champions League: Manchester United vs Barcelona preview


One of the most anticipated clashes of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals kicks off on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford, where Manchester United host Catalan giants Barcelona for the first leg of their tie. These two teams have last met in the final of this competition in 2011, and Barcelona won that match 3-1 with goals from Pedro, David Villa and Lionel Messi, while Wayne Rooney scored for the Red Devils. Overall, Barcelona have won 4 of their 11 European matches against Manchester United, including three finals, while the Red Devils have won three matches.

Manchester United have qualified for the quarter-finals against all odds, especially after having lost 2-0 at home against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last-sixteen tie. They fought back and recorded a memorable 3-1 victory in Paris in the second leg, but since then their domestic form has declined significantly. In fact, the Red Devils have lost three of their four matches since then, including the FA Cup quarter-final game against Wolves. Last week they suffered another 2-1 defeat against Wolverhampton, this time in the Premier League, and dropped to sixth place in the league table. Alexis Sanchez is still sidelined due to an injury, while Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are injury doubts.

Barcelona have all but secured the title in LaLiga last weekend with a 2-0 victory over second-placed Atletico Madrid, that result puts them eleven points ahead with seven matches left in the season so only a major disaster could get the crown out of their hands. That means they can fully focus on the UEFA Champions League now since they have already secured their presence in the Copa del Rey final as well. The Blaugrana are undefeated in their last sixteen matches in all competitions. Ousmane Dembele has recovered from his injury and will most likely make the bench, while Rafinha remains sidelined.

Probable line-ups:

Man United: De Gea - Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw - Herrera, Matic, Pogba - Lingard - Lukaku, Rashford

Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal - Messi, Suarez, Coutinho

My prediction: Barcelona to win 2-1, the Blaugrana are too strong for a faltering Manchester United.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Man United win - 3.75
Draw - 3.70
Barcelona win - 2.05

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