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Preview: Memories of 1984 and 1991 should inspire Manchester United ahead of Barcelona battle

Manchester United -v- Barcelona

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 10 April 2019; KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening, entertaining reigning La Liga champions and league leaders Barcelona. It will be a tough match for United, knowing that Lionel Messi will once again be tormenting the back four, which could see United capitulate this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find the best team to face the Catalan club after losing three of their last six matches in all competitions. United has been in poor form for the last four matches after beating Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital. That will be a worry for Solskjaer ahead of this battle, although it is only the first leg.

The players will need to be on their best behaviour also with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Antonia Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera all one card away from a one-match suspension. Valencia won’t play a part in the game so it is one less player to worry about. Barcelona has Nelson Semedo a booking away from a suspension.

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Form: Barcelona a team in form on the way to the Theatre of Dreams; United could face an uphill challenge

Manchester United: LWLLWW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Watford 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Arsenal 2-0 L, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 W, Southampton 3-2 W

United will face the biggest task of the season in their worst form under Solskjaer this season. Three wins and three losses in the last six matches. United’s season could well be over inside the next fortnight, especially if they do not take advantage of Arsenal’s defeat to Everton in the Premier League this weekend.

Barcelona: WDWWWW

Atletico Madrid 2-0 W, Villarreal 4-4 D, Espanyol 2-0 W, Real Betis 4-1 W, Lyon 5-1 W, Rayo Vallecano 3-1 W

Barcelona head to Old Trafford in good form, drawing once in the last six matches, winning the other five fixtures. The Catalan side has scored 20 goals, conceding seven times and keeping two clean sheets. Barcelona will be well up for this visit to the Theatre of Dreams with United seemingly the side in worse form this season, however unpredictable.

Top Scorers: Lionel Messi is not from this planet, nearly outscoring Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford on his own

Manchester United: 15 – Romelu Lukaku, 14 – Paul Pogba, 13 – Marcus Rashford, 12 – Anthony Martial, 5 – Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, 3 – Ander Herrera, 2 – Marouane Fellaini, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, 1 – Fred, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling

Barcelona: 41 – Lionel Messi, 20 – Luis Suárez, 11 – Ousmane Dembélé, 7 – Philippe Coutinho, 6 – Gerard Piqué, 4 – Ivan Rakitic, 2 – Jordi Alba, Malcom, Arturo Vidal, 1 – Carles Aleñá, Nélson Semedo, Munir El Haddadi, Rafinha

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Team News: Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly doubts for Barcelona clash; Ousmane Dembele could recover in time

United currently has six players on the sidelines through injury. Of the six, Antonio Valencia (knee), Matteo Darmian (knock), and Alexis Sanchez (MCL) are out of this match. Marcus Rashford (ankle), Eric Bailly (concussion), and Ander Herrera (knock) are all doubts but could play a part in this match.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde currently has three players on the sidelines through injury with Rafinha (cruciate ligament), and Thomas Vermaelen (thigh) definitely out of action for the visit to Old Trafford. However, French forward Ousmane Dembele (muscle tear) may well recover in time to play a part in this fixture.

Predicted Starting XI: 4-2-2-2 formation – Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku to lead the line with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial supporting?

Solskjaer could have up to six players on the sidelines against Barcelona with three players likely to be fit in time to be involved in the match. The biggest worries are Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera. United will need to ensure they are ready for this test, maybe keeping a clean sheet at the Theatre of Dreams, heading to the Camp Nou with some positivity.

Match Prediction: United might just have a surprise in the bag against Barcelona but the away leg could well be the tougher match

United and Barcelona have played 11 competitive matches in the history of both clubs, dating back to the first match which was played on the 7 March 1984, a 2-0 defeat in the UEFA European Cup Winner’s Cup, however, a 3-0 home win followed a fortnight later. United has won three matches, drawn four times and lost four times. This will be a big match for United.

Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona

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