The Red Devils travel to Barcelona in the hope of overturning a 1-0 deficit. Can Ole Gunnar Solksjaer guide United to more Champions League glory in similar vain to their exploits in Paris last month?
After a toothless performance at Old Trafford, very similar to their last round tie vs PSG, Manchester United need to go to Barcelona and do the business. That’s obviously going to be some mean feat, against a Barcelona side who haven’t lost at home in the Champions League since 2013. Barcelona notoriously don’t travel that well in Europe and rely heavily on their superiority at the Camp Nou, to get them through these knockout ties. This spells trouble for Man United going into the second leg a goal behind, ultimately needing to chase the game against a team who can and will rip you apart on the counter.
A lot of stargazers will be predicting for lightning to strike twice and United to turn the tie around in Barcelona just like they did in Paris last month. Looking back at that tie and the players that PSG were missing, the likes of Neymar & Cavani really doesn’t fill you with much hope, considering Barcelona’s major stars are all available.
With the league all but wrapped up, the hosts had the ability to rest key players such as Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and most importantly Lionel Messi for their trip to Huesca this weekend. The latter of the five being passed fit to play in the second leg, following his facial injury sustained in the first leg after a very tough Chris Smalling challenge.
Even though he hasn’t quite hit the dizzy heights expected of him after his £142 million transfer from Liverpool, Phillipe Coutinho is expected to start ahead of Ousmane Dembele, as the Frenchman is lacking match fitness. This points towards Ernesto Valverde looking to keep his starting XI the same after their convincing first leg success.
Manchester United haven’t been blessed with a squad anywhere near fully fit for large parts of this season. With the likes of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera being out since the end of March, Solskjaer will turn to Fred and Scott McTominay to fill his midfield alongside marquee midfielder Paul Pogba. Who funnily enough, missed the second leg miracle in Paris last month through suspension.
The Norwegian has had some good news in the last few days regarding injury, as both Marcus Rashford and the aforementioned Scott McTominay have both been passed fit for the tie. The one big negative for Solskjaer is that Luke Shaw will miss the game through suspension, after picking up a caution in the first leg.
Firstly the outright qualify market, you can get Barcelona (1.06) and Manchester United at a very big (8.50). I’m not saying they will 100% do it on Tuesday night, but those odds look large for a side that have beaten both Juventus and PSG away from home this season.
I’m expecting this to be quite an open affair, with Manchester United having to go for it, they’re going to be very prone to the counter, from a more than capable Barcelona offence. You can get Over 2.5 Goals (1.50), as I said I think goals are going to be the agenda of the clash, with neither team really looking to hold back.
With the chains being off as they were in Paris, I’m expecting United to play a very fast paced style of football relying on their speed up top in Marcus Rashford (4.20 to score anytime). With their attacking intent, they will leave gaps and I think Phillipe Coutinho First Goalscorer (8.00) is a very tasty price.
Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.50
Marcus Rashford Anytime @ 4.20
Phillipe Coutinho First Goalscorer @ 8.00