Manchester United v Barcelona: Two Soccer Giants
Written By: Natasha Turkington
Natasha Turkington was born and bred in Manchester, and is considered one of the Manchester United’s most prolific and knowledgeable fans of the team and soccer. Follow her on Twitter at @natashaturk.
If you didn’t manage to watch last week’s Europa League group stage 1st leg clash at Camp Nou then heed my advice and treat yourself to a sensational game of soccer, it really was a thriller of a match.
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Manchester United fans travelled in their thousands to Camp Nou, Barcelona, the iconic soccer stadium where they saw their beloved club lift the Champions League trophy in the historic treble-winning season back in 1999.
The Europa League Cup is somewhat of the more lightweight little brother to the prestigious Champions League Cup. However, the competition draw served us up with the mouth-watering tie of FC Barcelona versus Manchester United, and soccer fans around the world could not wait to see these two giants go head-to-head once more.
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The score was 2-2 at full-time, and it was a game that had everything: end-to-end high-pressing play, classic duals between players, shots off the post, controversial refereeing decisions (what else is new), managers furious on the touchline and great goals.
This week Barcelona FC returns to Old Trafford for the second leg and I am hoping for another magnificent game with everything the first leg gave us and more. I am lucky enough to be attending the game on Thursday. European games under the lights at Old Trafford are exceptional and I anticipate the atmosphere in the ground will be spine-tingling.
Barcelona have been in impressive form in La Liga this season, with manager Xavi’s side currently in pole position to win the title, ahead of the mighty Real Madrid.
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Xavi has all but confirmed that star winger Ousmane Dembele will miss Thursday’s clash, the Frenchman who has often been linked with a move to United in the past, missed last week’s thrilling draw through injury. He has missed each of Barcelona’s last four matches with a hamstring problem. But, the Spanish club has strength in depth in forward areas. Raphinha, who scored their second goal against United in midweek, has slotted straight in at right-wing in his absence. It is likely the former Leeds player will take up the same position for the upcoming game.
Manchester United, particularly Marcus Rashford who is unstoppable at the moment, are in sublime form; they go into this tie as favorites to win at home. Rashford’s goal tally stands at 24 for this season after scoring against Barcelona in the first leg and another two goals against Leicester City at the weekend. Midfield maestro, Casemiro, was rested for the English Premier League game over the weekend to be fresh against Barcelona. United manager Erik ten Hag will also be able to call upon defender Lisandro Martinez and midfielder Marcel Sabitzer at Old Trafford after they missed the first leg through suspension. It is likely we’ll see winger Jadon Sancho feature in this match following his much loved return to the squad following a long absence due to injury and mind-set problems.
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Only a win will see either one of these soccer colossuses progress into the next round; both teams are steeped in legacy and history of lifting European trophies, and neither manager will be willing to walk away empty handed. This incredible match-up promises to keep us on the edge of our seats; mine will thankfully be one of those posh padded ones that comes with a pre-match alcoholic nerve settler, I’m going to need it!