The time we’ve all been anticipating has finally come, the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals where we’ll see definitely one of the most interesting fixtures of the season as Manchester United take on FC Barcelona in a tie that is on the lips of every football fan as it promises to be a very scintillating encounter.
It’s is a very big fact that the Spanish giants are the favourites to get the win but Manchester United should not be underestimated. They have proven in the past that they’re a big club and have made life hard for Barca in some of their past encounters including knocking the club out in the 2008 UEFA Champions League courtesy of two fine performances in both legs of the semifinal, and they any on to win the title although it would be their last for now. Despite it being over a decade ago and Manchester United losing in two finals against the Catalans, one cannot simply just write the reds off as they’ve shown in some games this season that they’re capable of giving any team problems, Barcelona inclusive. We bring you five factors that can facilitate a Manchester United victory over Barcelona.
FIVE REASONS WHY MAN UNITED CAN BEAT BARCA
1. THEY’RE THE UNDERDOGS HERE
Manchester United are probably the biggest club in England but with all due respect, they’re the underdogs in this particular fixture as it is more likely the guys from Spain will secure the win. But this however is a really dangerous advantage, as Underdogs, Man United will play the game knowing they have little to lose and will only get heavily criticized if they lose by a wide margin. This will mean the reds come out to play with much more confidence and freeness. They won’t be shy to go forward especially at home or hurt Barcelona on the counter as they’ll be playing for their pride with a single aim of getting a result at Old Trafford. If they succeed, it could be very crucial in an interesting return fixture at Camp Nou.
2. DAVID DE GEA
It’s basically a fact that FC Barcelona have one of the best attacks in Europe. Of course, they have the best player in the world in their ranks and a dangerous poacher in Luis Suarez but the reds have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in Spanish first choice David de Gea. The shot stopper have proven in numerous occasions he’s a vital part of Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s team and have singlehandedly won games for his team. If he is at his best and puts up two fine performances, it is a boost to United’s chances of progressing. Perhaps a fine team performance in defence in one game and a masterclass by de Gea in the other can do it.
3. MAN UNITED HAD MORE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS GAME
Ole Gunnar Solskjear and his men weren’t on duty in the weekend which means they had right days of rest to gear up for the first leg. Meanwhile, Barcelona had to battle a stubborn Atletico Madrid side in a title-deciding tie four days before the first leg meaning they had half the rest as their Wednesday opponent. This means the English side will be fresher in the tie and they’re playing at home so no travellings. Barcelona will have to travel to England after a hectic game against a defensive Atletico Madrid side and this can introduce fatigue and loss of concentration into the team. This is the best time Man United can play this game, and at home too.
4. AN ATTACK OF SPEED AND STRENGTH
If there’s a specific type of attacking approach that specializes in beating this Barcelona team, it’s the one that is fast and sharp on the counter and possesses a strong man in front. This is basically Man United’s attack, they have the right profile in front as Marcos Rashford and Anthony Martial are capable of stretching the Barca defense while Romelu Lukaku on his day will be too strong for Pique and Co who don’t like going head to head against top 9s who know how to use their strength. The only issue here is form, if the attackers can be at their bests then it boosts Man United’s chances of shocking their opponents.
5. THE MIDFIELD VS MESSI
Honestly, that guy wearing the number 10 for Barca takes 10% from Man United’s chances of winning and adds it to Barca’s. If Man United can nullify him (which is obviously not easy), then they’ve practically solved half of their problems. The midfield will be essential in doing this and a defensive midfield pivot can try and reduce Messi’s efficiency as the Argentine is well known to drop deep and create for others. Ander Herrera will be crucial in this tactic as he’s used to man-marking top players while Paul Pogba can support and form a double pivot when they’re without the ball. If Messi has a bad day, it’s a huge plus for Man United which can prove to be decisive in their chances of progressing.
Honestly, it will be extremely difficult to cage this Barcelona team over two legs but it’s highly possible. If Manchester United can be very disciplined over 180 minutes, then their work will be easier. It will be a very interesting encounter especially to neutrals.