Manchester United face a herculean task of overturning a 1-0 deficit they conceded in the quarter-final first leg of the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford a week ago as the Red Devils visit Barcelona in search of ‘miracle’ in Tuesday’s night tie at Camp Nou.
The tie seems not over for Man United as they could still qualify to the semi-final stages of Europe’s most lucrative competition if the team replicate the same performance that saw them knock out Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the round of 16.
United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær knows that the team must avoid conceding an early goal against a Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona side that would feel comfortable playing in front of their vociferous supporters.
He will be banking on Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard to shoulder the goalscoring responsibilities. While Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde will be relying on Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Sergio Busquets to shut down the Red Devils.
Barca have progressed from 39 of their 41 European ties in which they won the first leg away from home – the exceptions being against FC Koln in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup and against Metz in the 1984-85 Cup Winners’ Cup – so history suggests that they should get the job done.
Furthermore, the Spanish giants are unbeaten in 30 Champions League home games – the longest such run in the competition (W27 D3) – and they have also not conceded more than once in any of those matches since a 3-0 loss to Bayern in the 2012-13 semi-finals.
There is little between the sides overall, with United recording three victories to Barcelona’s five in their 12 previous competitive meetings, though the hosts have won the last three fixtures – including wins in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.
Of the 70 previous occasions, a side has won a Champions League knockout tie first leg away from home, just four have been eliminated (6%). However, two of those instances have been in this season’s competition, including once by Man United.