Manchester United take on Barcelona in blockbuster Europa League clash

Manchester United and Barcelona will renew hostilities at Old Trafford in the second league Europa League play off match
Manchester United will take on Barcelona at Old Trafford
Manchester United will take on Barcelona at Old Trafford

(Football news) After an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou, Manchester United will lock horns against Barcelona once again in the second leg of the Europa League play off match at Old Trafford. It was only 12 years ago that the two teams faced each other in the Champions League final, a telling tale about how the clubs have fallen in recent years but all signs point towards both teams re-emerging and becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Erik ten Hag will hope to see his team be better defensively this time around while Marcus Rashford will hope to continue his red hot form once again. The forward scored twice in their 3-0 victory over Leicester City last week and with the Carabao Cup final on the horizon, there are a crucial run of fixtures coming up.

Manchester United are currently competing in every single competition this season but that could change in this match if they lose to Barcelona. It appears to be a season defining period for the Red Devils who will face Barcelona in the Europa League playoff, Newcastle United in the cup final, West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round and Liverpool on March 5th.

Erik ten Hag’s side are currently unbeaten in 8 games across all competitions and have scored at least two goals in each of their last nine matches. At home, Manchester United have 14 wins and a draw in their last 15 games but they have a poor record against Spanish opposition, losing to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid last year.

As for Barcelona, it will be nothing short of disastrous if they are eliminated from the Europa League during the playoffs. It’s no secret that the club is struggling financially and being demoted to Europe’s second tier club competition is not ideal. However, Xavi has done a good job as manager as the Blaugrana have an eight point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table and recently defeated Cadiz 2-0 with goals from Sergi Roberto and Robert Lewandowski. Barcelona are also unbeaten in 18 games with 16 wins. Barcelona also have a fantastic record against Manchester United as the Red Devils have failed to win their last five games since their famous 2007/08 semifinal win.

In team news, Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer are available for selection after serving their bans while Casemiro is also available for selection. However, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek are sidelined due to injury while Anthony Martial still has a hip problem. However, Harry Maguire and Antony are fit once again while Raphael Varane is expected to replace Victor Lindelof in the starting lineup. Erik ten Hag might change his team tactically to accommodate Wout Weghorst as a traditional number 9 with Marcus Rashford supporting him.

For Barcelona, Gavi and Pedri are unavailable for selection while Ousmane Dembele is currently sidelined due to a thigh injury. However, Ronald Araujo is available once again after serving his suspension while Sergio Busquets will feature in the lineup after being on the bench against Cadiz. The Spaniard is expected to feature alongside Frenkie de Jong and Franck Kessie while Ansu Fati should feature on the left flank despite Ferran Torres’ recent performances.

Also read: Ajax look to get past an in form Union Berlin side after a draw in the first leg


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