Preview: Casemiro back for Barcelona clash! Rashford to seek more goals? This is a big match for United & Ten Hag

Getting at least one goal at the Camp Nou will be needed from this match

Barcelona -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona

Thursday 16 February 2023, KO 17:45 GMT

Manchester United travel to Spain where they will take on Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Europa League play off first leg on Thursday evening. United and Barcelona have met in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Champions League but this will be the first time the two clubs have met in the UEFA Europa League. Barcelona’s current form is good with six wins in their last six matches. United have five wins and a draw in their last six matches.

This is a big match for United if they are to continue in the Europa League this season with the winner of this play off round reaching the last 16 in the competition. United and Barcelona have met 13 times in European competition with United winning three times, drawing four times and losing six times. In the last four meeting, United have lost all four – two of them in the UEFA Champions League final – the other two in the knockout stages of the competition.

This is an important period for United with the two matches against Barcelona this Thursday and next Thursday with a Premier League clash with Leicester City at Old Trafford in between the two Europa League matches and the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle United coming just three days after the second leg match. During this time, United will contend to remain in four competitions this season and to win one of them – whilst pushing for a top four place.

Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Leeds United 2-0 W, Leeds United 2-2 D, Crystal Palace 2-1 W, Nottingham Forest 2-0 W, Reading 3-1 W, Nottingham Forest 3-0 W

Goals: 21 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Anthony Martial, 5 – Antony, 4 – Casemiro, Fred, Jadon Sancho, 3 – Alejandro Garnacho, Own Goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Wout Weghorst

Assists: 9 – Christian Eriksen, 7 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Casemiro, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, Luke Shaw, 2 – Diogo Dalot, Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, 1 – Antony, Fred, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Wout Weghorst

Barcelona – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Villarreal CF 1-0 W, Sevilla FC 3-0 W, Real Betis 2-1 W, Girona FC 1-0 W, Real Sociedad 1-0 W, Getafe CF 1-0 W

Goals: 19 – Robert Lewandowski, 6 – Ousmane Dembélé, Pedri, 5 – Ferran Torres, 4 – Raphinha, 3 – Ansu Fati, Marcos Alonso, Frenkie de Jong, Sergi Roberto, 1 – Jordi Alba, Memphis Depay, Eric García, Gavi, Franck Kessie, Pablo Torre

Assists: 7 – Ousmane Dembélé, 6 – Raphinha, 5 – Robert Lewandowski, 4 – Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde, 3 – Ansu Fati, Jules Koundé, 2 – Gavi, Sergi Roberto, 1 – Ronald Araújo, Sergio Busquets, Andreas Christensen, Frenkie de Jong, Eric García, Franck Kessie, Ferran Torres

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Barcelona have met 13 times in European competition. United have won three of those meeting, drawn four with Barcelona wining six times. United’s best victory over Barcelona came in the 15 May 1991 in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup final in Rotterdam with United winning 2-1 with Mark Hughes scoring both goals seeing United lift their first European trophy of Sir Alex Ferguson’s career. Paul Scholes scored the winner in the last victory over the Catalans.

United also won back in 1984 in the third round second leg of the Cup Winners Cup with Bryan Robson scoring twice and Frank Stapleton scoring the other goal in a 3-0 victory which saw United through 3-2 on aggregate. United made the Champions League final in both 2009 and 2011 against Barcelona, losing 2-0 and 3-1 respectively. In the 2018/19 season, United and Barcelona met in the quarter final of the Champions League, losing 1-0 and 3-0 respectively.

Mark Hughes, Laurent Blanc, Jordi Cruyff, Henrik Larsson, Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez and Memphis Depay have all played for both United and Barcelona during their careers. For me, the most notable players on this list would be Pique, Ibrahimovic, Hughes, Sanchez, Valdes and Larsson based on their brilliant careers in the game. Marc Jurado is a former Barcelona player currently in United’s academy playing at U21 level.

Team News

Antony, Christian Eriksen, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek have all been ruled out of this match through injury. Aaron Wan-Bissaka returned from illness in the 2-0 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Casemiro is still suspended for one more Premier League match but it eligible to face Barcelona in the UEFA Europa League. Lisandro Martinez will miss this leg due to suspension for bookings in the group stage.

Marcel Sabitzer is suspended for the first leg against Barcelona because of his three bookings for Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League which has been carried forward into the Europa League this season. We will just have to wait until the second leg against Barcelona to see Casemiro and Sabitzer in the midfield together. It seems unlikely that the likes of Antony, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay will be fit for this match so United won’t have many options.

Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembélé are the only two Barcelona players who are out of this match injured. Busquets has a chance to be fit for the clash at Old Trafford next week but from what I have seen, it is only a chance. Gavi is one yellow card away from a suspension in Europe this season so if he gets booked against United this week, he will be suspended for the clash at the Theatre of Dreams next week. This will be a tough match for both teams, I think.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Shaw, Malacia;

Casemiro, Fred;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;

Weghorst

Predicted Barcelona Starting XI – 4-3-3

Ter Stegen;

Kounde, Christensen, Araújo, Alba;

Kessié, de Jong, Pedri;

Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi

Match Prediction

There are no away goals in the latter stages of European matches, which is kind of a good thing but also makes these matches pointless with home and away matches. One match in a neutral location could equate to fewer matches being played across the season. But home and away matches have been part of knockout football, especially in Europe for much of the history of this game. United will need to get the ball in the back of the net at the Camp Nou though, if just to save face.

I think United have a good chance to get through to the round of 16 stage of the UEFA Europa League this season but this will be a tough fixture for both teams. Barcelona’s form in the UEFA Champions League was not the best which resulted in them exiting to the Europa League so it should be clear that Europa is a danger for them. They don’t have the swagger they has the last time United played at the Camp Nou back in 2019 and losing 3-0.

Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were the last United players to score at the Camp Nou against Barcelona on the 25 November 1998 in a 3-3 draw in the group stages of the Champions League in the year that United went all the way to the final, also played at the Camp Nou which saw Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær score to secure the third trophy of the treble-winning season for United. Marcus Rashford will be seeking to add to his 21 goals this season in this match.

Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker


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About editor 2195 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.