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Ratings: Manchester United outclassed in the Camp Nou; De Gea, Young and Pogba all poor – something needs to change

Manchester United saw themselves beaten 3-0 by Barcelona in the quarter-final second leg of the UEFA Champions League at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening, losing 4-0 on aggregate to the La Liga leaders. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side needs to lick their wounds ahead of a battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.

The match did not start too well for United as Marcus Rashford missed a shot in the opening minute of the match. Barcelona was awarded a penalty in the 11th minute after Fred was adjudged to have fouled Ivan Rakitic. The referee, Felix Brych, used VAR disallowing the penalty, which was lucky for United.

United lasted five minutes before Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a fine finish after Ashley Young gave the ball away on the left and United then gave Messi too much space. Just four minutes later, Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead firing towards David De Gea with the Spanish number one losing the ball underneath himself.

De Gea did start to restore himself later in the first half though, although looking at the save he made, after Messi turned Phil Jones, the Spaniard knew little about it. United had a free kick late in the first half and getting a goal there could have put them back into the game, however, it was not meant to be.

Barcelona scored again just after the hour after Jordi Alba set Philippe Coutinho up to score a beauty of a goal which should be enough to send United packing, although that was effectively done after they conceded the first goal. United did have opportunities in the game but did little to make them important.:

Match Statistics:

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one will be looking back at the mistakes made in the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening. He managed to stop Sergi Roberto from scoring but was beaten by Lionel Messi twice, one was a howler, and Philippe Coutinho.. I get the impression that De Gea wants to move on, which may happen this summer, if United want a fee for him.

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4 Phil Jones

Turned by the class of Messi. Was not at the same level of any of his teammates. This is United's problem. Too much deadwood at the club. United are outclassed by most teams now, thanks to Ed Woodward resigning these players on long contracts.

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Chris Smalling

Smalling was not disgraced against Barcelona but he was not at his best. Could have done better against Messi, after saying he had a plan to silence him, which may have worked a week ago but failed tonight. Sad to remember that he's signed a new contract and could be here for years yet.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Played a part at right back, which may have been better than Jones. United were missing the attacking capabilities from this position, something they may want to find a result for in the summer.

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18 Ashley Young

Committed error after error. Outclassed by Messi on his own. Not good enough to play for United, let alone captain them. Seen enough of Ashley Young now, but hey, we are not allowed to complain about the players, according to some top reds.

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39 Scott McTominay

Provided energy in what was always going to be a tough game for United. Could have got a goal back early in the game. Many will write him off instead of backing him, which is one of the problems at the club; some supporters have no patience at all!

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17 Fred

Could not keep up with the pace of the game, which was controlled by Barcelona. It may have been a baptism of fire for him though, which could heed positive results for him and United. The writing is on the wall with the owners and Woodward. A massive summer is needed for United to become a force again. But we have heard this before, in each of the last six summers.

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6 Paul Pogba

Provided a through ball into Marcus Rashford, in which he hit the crossbar in the first minute of play. The Frenchman was seldom seen after this, which is just one of the problems between him and United. When Pogba can be bothered, he's a great player to have, however, the matches he's bothered to feature in do not come around too often.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Started well but soon went off the boil. This seems to be the same old problem for Lingard and United. He is a confident player and I believe he knows his strengths and weaknesses, however, against Barcelona, there were more weaknesses than strengths.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The 21-year-old was set a challenge by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and it did not pay off. Had two chances on goal, missing both. It could have been a very different game if he had scored in the first minute of the match.

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9 Anthony Martial

When United had a period of dominance in the game, the Frenchman was playing well, but when Barcelona took over in the dominance ranks, Martial was a player who was outclassed and made to look rather plain, which has been coming for some time. Many still rate him as a world beater, which is something that has been shown as not quite right. However, it could change, if he puts in more enthusiasm, which is much-needed right now.

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Substitutes

Diogo Dalot

Replaced Martial 65'. The Portuguese teenager looked lively during his 25-minute cameo. Perhaps he should have started at right-back. Good bit of experience for him at the Camp Nou.

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Romelu Lukaku

Replaced Rashford 73'. I don't think he put enough effort into getting on the ball enough, however, there was a massive lack of creativity. The void between United and Barcelona was massive. I don't blame him if he wants out in the summer. United need a massive rebuild. It doesn't feel like they have had one in six years, despite spending more than £700 million.

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Alexis Sanchez

Replaced Lingard 80'. Could have scored a goal late in the game, which would have been nothing but consolation. He may not have shone but there was some urgency about him. Good to see him fit again and he needs to start performing for the remainder of the season.

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Goals:Lionel Messi 16′, 20′, Philippe Coutinho 61′

Assists: Jordi Alba 61′

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; McTominay, Fred, Pogba; Lingard (Sanchez 80′); Rashford (Lukaku 73′), Martial (Dalot 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Mata, Pereira, Matic

Bookings: Luis Suarez 77′

Confirmed Starting XI: Rashford and Martial start for United against Barcelona; Lukaku and Sanchez on the bench

Manchester United face their toughest match of the season when they travel to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final tonight. United are 1-0 down in the match after Luke Shaw scored the only goal in the encounter at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Shaw is suspended from this fixture.

United beat West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday evening, returning to winning ways after two defeats. It was not a convincing victory but three points in their quest to finish in the top four this season, which should not be a problem for a club of this calibre. However, it is not a problem that has appeared overnight.

Solskjaer will have a problem sorting out the fullback positions with Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot and Matteo Darmian the only fit players for these positions and the latter on returned to the bench after a long period of injury on Saturday. Young was poor in the first leg and involving him in the second leg could see United with a disadvantage from the start.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Jones, Smalling, Lindelof, Young;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Lingard;

Rashford, Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Dalot; Mata, Pereira, Matic; Sanchez, Lukaku

United and Barcelona have played 12 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 five times.

United has won twice in their last six matches, which is poor considering the form they started in under Solskjaer. Last Wednesday, the players did not take advantage of Barcelona, who were unable to finish United off. They must start taking advantage of these scenarios and they are currently not. Failure to beat Barcelona could result in many problems for the players and the manager this summer.

Barcelona seems to be in great form recently, not losing in their last six matches, drawing twice and winning four times. On Saturday, Valverde’s side drew 0-0 with SD Huesca, although he made ten changes, resting several key players for the clash with United. This is alarming as United seemed unable to rest many players due to injury and other things. This will be a crucial match for both teams.

How Manchester United could look against Barcelona at the Camp Nou; 4-2-3-1 with McTominay and Fred in midfield

Manchester United face their toughest match of the season when they travel to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday evening. United are 1-0 down in the match after Luke Shaw scored the only goal in the encounter at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Shaw is suspended from this fixture.

United beat West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday evening, returning to winning ways after two defeats. It was not a convincing victory but three points in their quest to finish in the top four this season, which should not be a problem for a club of this calibre. However, it is not a problem that has appeared overnight.

Solskjaer will have a problem sorting out the fullback positions with Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot and Matteo Darmian the only fit players for these positions and the latter on returned to the bench after a long period of injury on Saturday. Young was poor in the first leg and involving him in the second leg could see United with a disadvantage from the start.

United and Barcelona have played 12 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 five times.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one is the best option in goal ahead of the Barcelona clash. It is a must-win match for United like it was that night in Paris. David De Gea will need to be on the ball against the La Liga leaders, despite them not doing much at Old Trafford on Wednesday. This match will be a close one, as it is now. United need to score a few goals and keep a clean sheet. In Paris they proved it was possible.

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Defence: Diogo Dalot, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Matteo Darmian

Ashley Young should not be part of this team, not starting anyway. Diogo Dalot could learn plenty of experience playing against Barcelona and Matteo Darmian, who has played at left-back before, could play a role in that position. Chris Smalling should keep his place and Victor Lindelof should be restored to a starting position.

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Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

The midfield will need to have an assured defensive player and one to knit the midfield with the attacking players. Fred played a good game against West Ham on Saturday so should keep his place in the team. Scott McTominay played well against Barcelona on Wednesday so should keep his place. Despite the criticism, recently, it has been egg on their faces rather than his.

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Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial

This is obviously not the best formation that United can play in but it could counter the 4-3-3 formation that Barcelona utilises. Marcus Rashford is not a winger, but his pace and experience could be good and he may also roam in the more central areas. Anthony Martial needs to put in a good performance and Paul Pogba could provide further forward.

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Forwards: Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian is not in the best form but we must remember how capable he is of scoring a goal or two. In the three matches he scored a brace in recently, he was able to find the best positions to score the goals. He needs to be playing like this week in and week out, to get the best out of him. Whatever happens in the summer, he’s a United player now and should be performing at the highest level possible.

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Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood

This bench might not be the one that is involved in Tuesday’s match but based on the current situation at the club, these are the players who could have an impact in the game, should they be needed. Alexis Sanchez probably won’t be fit, but you never know. Nemanja Matic has been ill, so if he has recovered, he could be a good player to involve, if needed.

Preview: This is the big one for Manchester United. Barcelona or bust…

Barcelona -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League

Camp Nou, Barcelona

Tuesday 16 April 2019; KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Manchester United face their toughest match of the season when they travel to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday evening. United are 1-0 down in the match after Luke Shaw scored the only goal in the encounter at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Shaw is suspended from this fixture.

United beat West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday evening, returning to winning ways after two defeats. It was not a convincing victory but three points in their quest to finish in the top four this season, which should not be a problem for a club of this calibre. However, it is not a problem that has appeared overnight.

Solskjaer will have a problem sorting out the fullback positions with Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot and Matteo Darmian the only fit players for these positions and the latter on returned to the bench after a long period of injury on Saturday. Young was poor in the first leg and involving him in the second leg could see United with a disadvantage from the start.

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Form: United finally get back to winning ways against West Ham as Barcelona draw blank against SD Huesca although they made 10 changes…

Manchester United: WLLWLL

West Ham United 2-1 W, Barcelona 1-0 L, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Watford 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Arsenal 2-0 L

United has won twice in their last six matches, which is poor considering the form they started in under Solskjaer. Last Wednesday, the players did not take advantage of Barcelona, who were unable to finish United off. They must start taking advantage of these scenarios and they are currently not. Failure to beat Barcelona could result in many problems for the players and the manager this summer.

Barcelona: DWDWWW

SD Huesca 0-0 D, Atletico Madrid 2-0 W, Villarreal 4-4 D, Espanyol 2-0 W, Real Betis 4-1 W, Lyon 5-1 W

Barcelona seems to be in great form recently, not losing in their last six matches, drawing twice and winning four times. On Saturday, Valverde’s side drew 0-0 with SD Huesca, although he made ten changes, resting several key players for the clash with United. This is alarming as United seemed unable to rest many players due to injury and other things. This will be a crucial match for both teams.

Top Scorers: United’s players have scored many goals this season but they need to become so much better in front of the goal!

Manchester United: 16 – Paul Pogba, 15 – Romelu Lukaku, 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: Solskjaer has fullback problems and a lack of experience to rely on against Barcelona but that night in Paris could motivate the players, or at least it should!

Solskjaer currently has five players on the sidelines through injury, some of which may return to have some involvement in the second leg against Barcelona. Alexis Sanchez (MCL), Antonio Valencia (muscle), Eric Bailly (concussion), Ander Herrera (hamstring), and Nemanja Matic (illness) are the five players on the sidelines.

United saw Matteo Darmian return to the bench against West Ham, so he may feature against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Luke Shaw is suspended in this match, so the left-back role will be a problem for Solskjaer, especially as Marcos Rojo did not perform all that well against the Hammers at Old Trafford.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has a few injury problems ahead of the second leg at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. Rafinha (cruciate ligament) and Thomas Vermaelen (thigh) are out fo the match but Sergi Roberto (muscular) and Ivan Rakitic (fever) could be fit to face United. There are doubts about Lionel Messi also, but it could just be a game of cat and mouse.

Predicted Starting XI: Form is a massive issue for United ahead of Barcelona test. Beating teams convincingly is a problem.

United need to find a way to start winning convincingly. Of late, United has beaten both Watford and West Ham United – neither of the matches showed that United were able to get the better of their opposition. Romelu Lukaku is out of form and other players are contributing to the problems, which really need to be solved if United get anywhere this season.

Match Prediction: United has lost more times against Barcelona than they have won. Time to make up for that on Tuesday evening?

United and Barcelona have played 12 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 five times.

Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United

Ratings: Scott McTominay can hold his head high after Barcelona defeat at Old Trafford

Manchester United saw themselves beaten once again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Barcelona won 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford. It was a lacklustre affair with Luke Shaw scoring the own goal which put Barcelona in the driving seat, even if it was awarded by VAR.

Barcelona opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match which was ruled as offside but VAR gave the goal. Lionel Messi was played in over the top, swivelled inside the box and chipped the ball towards the back post where Luis Suarez was waiting. The ball deflected off Luke Shaw and into the back of his own net.

In the 19th minute of the match, Shaw was booked, meaning he will miss the next leg of this game, along with the two Premier League matches he will miss, meaning he will be out of contention against West Ham United, Barcelona, and Everton, which is not a great position to be in. Sergio Busquets was booked two minutes before Shaw.

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Man of the Match: Scott McTominay

The Scotland international never seems to get much respect from the Old Trafford faithful, well those on Twitter anyway. They don’t seem to be able to see what others can, but according to them, that is delusion. I rate McTominay and I am proud to say I do. He is going to be a decent midfielder in this team. Tonight, he showed his class.

Match Statistics:

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one did not have many saves to make against the Catalan club but what he did do was important in the game, especially in the fact that Barcelona could not double their lead.

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18 Ashley Young

The veteran right-back did the minimum in defence but showed signs of what United were getting with him. Going forward, he just was not good enough to warrant a place in the team. His delivery of the ball was poor and one of the reasons United were poor overall.

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Chris Smalling

The long-serving defender played a part in the match against Barcelona and was superb in the air. He kept the Barca players pretty quiet at times and he could have been one of the reasons that only one goal was scored, and that was by a United player.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The Swedish international did well against the La Liga leaders. The defence were protected by the midfield and Lindelof mopped up the loose balls and did not have to do as much as he may have been expected to.

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23 Luke Shaw

The England left-back was unfortunate to be the player the ball deflected off, scoring the only goal of the game, an own goal. Shaw was solid in defence but rarely broke forward on the attack.

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39 Scott McTominay

Seems to get the short straw when he gets named in the starting XI but likes to show his critics that he has the skills to play for this club. What do they know, eh? Great at moving forward with the ball, played many long-range passes, which most of the time were delivered to a teammate. His partnership with Fred may be considered a success, so far, at least.

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17 Fred

This has to be the Brazilian’s best performance for United so far, which could give him the confidence to continue. Put in a shift both defensively and in a more creative role going forward. His passing range will have impressed the gaffer.

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6 Paul Pogba

It was not a poor game for the Frenchman but he was outplayed by his midfield teammates, which was good to see. It shows that United has other options, especially if Pogba did leave in the summer. May need to pull something out of the bag to keep his place this weekend.

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Diogo Dalot

Grew in confidence throughout the game. Had a great chance in the game, which may have changed the scoreline. Good to see him get the game time which will help him grow as a player.

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Romelu Lukaku

His hold up play was pretty good against the La Liga leaders. However, as the striker in this team, he does need to find the clinical aspect of his game. If Lukaku is not scoring goals, who is?

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10 Marcus Rashford

The England forward had plenty of energy in the game. He put his head down and worked hard for his team but it was just not his night. United will be lucky they only conceded one goal. Perhaps next week, at the Camp Nou, it could be Rashford’s and United’s night once again?

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Substitutes

9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Lukaku 68'. Had a through ball played in by McTominay but miscontrolled it. Should have done much better.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Dalot 74'. Booked soon after his introduction. Got little involvement in the game. Should have been better coming off the bench.

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Andreas Pereira

Replaced Rashford 85'. Cameo appearance but he got forward for United and tried to create. Received a few good balls from McTominay.

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Goals: Luke Shaw 12′ o/g 

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Pogba; Dalot (Lingard 74′), Lukaku (Martial 68′), Rashford (Pereira 85′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Jones, Rojo; Mata

Bookings: Luke Shaw 19′, Jesse Lingard 76′, Chris Smalling 85′; Sergio Busquets 17′, Arturo Vidal 71′

Confirmed Starting XI: Rashford, Lukaku and Dalot lead the line against Barcelona; Pogba, McTominay and Fred in midfield

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.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Dalot, Lukaku, Rashford

Substitutes:

Romero; Jones, Rojo; Mata, Lingard, Pereira; Martial

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.

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 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.

How Manchester United could look in a 4-2-2-2 formation against Barcelona; Rashford and Lukaku supported by Martial and Lingard

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.

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.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been in questionable form this season and rumours suggest he wants to leave the club this summer. However, until anyone of note says anything, they are just rumours. Against Barcelona, De Gea should be looking to regain his form and be that wall that could stop Lionel Messi et al from scoring at the Theatre of Dreams.

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Defence: Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

United has not kept a clean sheet since that 0-0 draw against Liverpool back in February. Ashley Young and Luke Shaw will play in the fullback positions, however, both are a booking away from a suspension. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof should be trusted in the centre of defence as recently, they have played well together.

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Midfield Two: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield needs changing up a little bit. For weeks, Solskjaer has been playing a predominant midfield three. There were suggestions that Paul Pogba could play in a similar role to how he has played for France but that cannot be alongside Nemanja Matic as he is pretty slow and does not give Pogba the freedom to break forward. Ander Herrera could have done that but now Scott McTominay might have to, due to injury.

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Wingers: Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial

This is a formation untested by United this season but in effect, it is a 4-4-2 formation with a slight difference. With Rashford and Lukaku likely to lead the line, it is important that they are supported by quick players who are able to play to the best of their abilities. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are the two that should be chosen.

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Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku

I am working on the basis that both Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are fit to face Barcelona. There are no known problems with the Belgian’s fitness, however, Rashford missed the defeat to Wolves last week. Both being fit and ready to go could give United the best possible start, especially if they are supported by Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.

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Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred

Having strength on the bench is important as Solskjaer will need to utilise his substitutes more than ever at this stage of the season. There are no forward on my predicted bench but plenty of talent to fill in where needed. We might even see the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes or Mason Greenwood, which would be great for any of the trio.

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

Report: Resurgent Barcelona end Manchester United’s winning spree in the USA

Manchester United were beaten in Landover, Maryland but a resurgent Barcelona side who scored a solo goal through Neymar, his third of the Catalan clubs pre-season tour this summer. United started a strong lineup and played well throughout, but just could not create anything. Defensively, United did well at times, but creatively, things need to change. This side, against one of the best in the world, looked short of player to light the pitch up. Romelu Lukaku played well, Paul Pogba seemed determined and Marcus Rashford tried to get something going, with United falling short of the mark. It’s only pre-season, fitness is the main thing, not winning.

Jose Mourinho started a strong side against Barcelona with David De Gea in goal, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind in defence. Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba in midfield, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all playing behind Romelu Lukaku. United kicked the game off with Barcelona gaining possession of the ball and going on the attack before United won back possession and made the clearance. United then went on the attack through Rashford, crossing into Lukaku, who failed to threaten the Dutch goalkeeper. Neymar then attacked for Barcelona, forcing a save out of De Gea.

In side the sixth minute Lionel Messi, put forward by Neymar could have scored but De Gea made the save, not grasping the ball, but getting to it. A minute or so later Barcelona had another chance with De Gea saving again giving the Catalan team a corner. De Gea made a save from the corner too, thwarting the Catalans so far at the start of the match. In the eleventh minute of the match after some good play by Lukaku, Blind got forward hoping to set the Belgian striker up for a goal but the ball was intercepted. United were giving as much as they had received so far in this match, which is a good sign.

Messi had a shot on goal with some quick play in the twelfth minute but the Argentinian’s shot was wide of the target, luckily for United. Last season Messi scored 54 goals in 52 matches, which is some good for. A minute later Lukaku had a long-range shot on goal, which was straight down the throat of Jasper Cillessen, a good attempt from United’s new striker. Paul Pogba had a shot on goal from long-range also with Cillessen stretching to make the save. United are not afraid of this Barcelona side, which is a very good sign. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot also, which was wide of the target.

United won a corner in the 17th minute of the match after Lingard took a shot which was deflected behind. United threatened from the corner with Lingard advancing to the left of the goal with Cillessen making the safe to thwart the Red Devils. Barcelona then went on the attack with United attempting to close them down, stopping the attack by giving away a throw-in. United got forward on the attack, running 60 yards with the ball but Sergio Busquets made the challenge, giving away a corner. Rashford took the corner, but it was cleared into United’s half, with them then pushing forward but Smalling was flagged for offside.

Messi won a free-kick for Barcelona in the 22nd minute of the match after it appeared that he was bundled over, seemingly making the best of the challenge to put his team in contention to threaten again. Messi took the free-kick and hit it straight into United’s wall. Lingard on the advance was then hacked down by Ivan Rakitic unnecessarily with United winning a free-kick. Barcelona then regained possession and the end-to-end play resumed after Luis Suarez took a dive. Lukaku broke forward again, not getting anything for his team. Pogba had another shot on goal, just seeing his effort go wide again.

Just before the half hour stage of the match, Barcelona were having more attacking play threatening United with De Gea making a few saves and United getting the better of the attacks. From the corner, Barcelona were maintaining their shot passes to create space in United’s attacking third keeping United on their toes. Barcelona seemed rusty as they were just not threatening enough, which will suit United well as a win inside 90 minutes will see the club clinch the International Champions Cup, which they won in 2014 in Louis van Gaal’s first pre-season with the club. Barcelona took the lead in the 31st minute through Neymar, Valencia lost his balance in the box.

Barcelona seemed to toy with United after their opening goal, which was not the first time United had fallen behind during pre-season, Real Salt Lake took the lead in the second match on this tour. Barcelona are a much better side though. United have been giving as much as they got, at times, which as I said was a good sign. Barcelona won another free-kick in the 40th minute of the patch after Messi was fouled by Pogba. The Argentinian took the free-kick, which sailed over the crossbar. United got a credible attack going, sitting in the box, but the attack was closed down. Blind pulled Messi back, could have been booked, but wasn’t.

Suarez got forward in the 42nd minute, threatening to score Barcelona’s second goal, but De Gea got down to thwart the Uruguayan from finding a second goal for his club just before the end of the first half. United broke forward with two minutes of the half to play with Lukaku waiting in the box, making space and the ball was crossed in, missing the Belgian and Lingard trying to chase the ball which went out of play. Another attack for United, another one which saw them fail to really threaten Barcelona. Pogba was determined to get something from this game. United had another chance with Blind crossing, just a bit too soon for Lukaku. 1-0 Barca.

At the start of the second half Barcelona made ten changes with United making a five with Sergio Romero replacing De Gea, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly replacing Smalling and Lindelof in the centre of defence, Matteo Darmian replacing Blind at left-back and Marouane Fellaini replacing Carrick. United had a lot to do in order to get back into the game as despite all the changes and the fact the game had fizzled out a little, the understudies (with some experience) for Barcelona in this match were just as threatening, just not as polished. Valencia tried to start something for United, but the attacking play was closed down quickly by Barca.

Around the hour mark things were not going too well for United with Lingard holding his groin unable to continue, which was a shame after a bright pre-season. Anthony Martial replaced Lingard and Mourinho made another change with Andreas Pereira replacing Mkhitaryan. United were struggling to put an attack together with Barcelona seeming much fresher and ready to thwart chances created by their opposition. United need two goals to win the International Champions Cup, which seems a long way from possibility right now. Martial had a chance in the 65th minute, seeing his effort off target.

Barcelona had a chance at the other end with Romeo making the save to thwart the Catalan side. Bailly seemed to be caught flat footed at a moment whereby he could have possible done more to regain possession of challenge the attacking player. In the 70th minute Pereira had a chance to score, but it cleared the crossbar, unfortunately for United, who really need to get back into the match. United had an opportunity to score again, creating space in Barca’s defence but the shot was played straight into the goalkeeper, who was having a good game. United had another shot minutes later, this time from Pogba, still not threatening enough to get into the match.

Barcelona won a corner, but Romero caught the ball inside his area sending United on the attack. United had started to do more to get something going, but Barca were seemingly looking to keep control of the match, keeping a clean sheet, which seemed possible at this moment in time. There was 15 minutes remaining for United to get back into the match. Andres Iniesta could have caused more damage, his attempt did not cause problems for United. Martial had some good play on the left flank, taking his defender on, but his tough was heavy and the ball went out of play. The attendance inside the FedEx Field was 80,162, much better the Sunday’s match.

Marouane Fellaini was booked in the 83rd minute fo the match for a foul, perhaps being lucky to still be on the pitch after elbowing his opposition, only coming on at the start of the second half. Axel Tuanzebe replaced Valencia in the 84th minute of the match with the 19-year-old getting a few mont minutes of pre-season action, albeit playing at right-back. In the 90th minute Rashford and Lucas Digne went down on the right flank with the United striker seemingly in pain, but continuing. Barcelona got the free-kick, not doing anything of note but United still needed a goal to level the score. Rashford was flagged offside on the attack Four minutes added on.

In the first minute of added time, Barcelona seemed to handle the ball in the area, close to the referee but nothing was given. On the replay, it was accidental. United needed to go for broke, looking for that goal which would take the match to penalties, like the one against Real Madrid on Sunday. It was a good work out for the players, which is what pre-season is about, not winning pointless silverware, but it would have been nice. Bailly won a free-kick for United with just over a minute to play, it being hacked away back into United’s half. Tuanzebe started something with Martial not shooting and being dispossessed. Rashford had a chance too, off target.

United lost the match 1-0 which will end their pre-season tour of the United States of America. They still have two pre-season matches against Valerenga in Oslo and Sampdoria in Dublin, also the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia, so plenty of time to get the fitness levels to where they need to be, perhaps even a new face or two before the three matches have been played.

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 46′); Valencia (Tuanzebe 84′), Smalling (Bailly 46′), Lindelof (Jones 46′), Blind (Darmian 46′); Carrick (Fellaini 46′), Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Mkhitaryan (A. Pereira 63′), Rashford; Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Mitchell; McTominay

Starting XI: Lukaku, Lingard, Rashford and Mkhitaryan lead the line against Barcelona

Manchester United face Barcelona in their third and final match of the International Champions Cup and their fifth and final match of the United States of America leg of their pre-season tour. On Sunday United will face Valerenga in Oslo, Norway before playing Sampdoria in Dublin, Ireland in a week’s time. The pre-season is over with just the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia between them and the start of the Premier League season, in which United will entertain West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday 13th August 2017. United have strengthened this season with Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof, with one or two more player’s still wanted. It will be four wins in four for United, three in 90 minutes, one on penalties.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Blind;

Carrick, Pogba;

Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford;

Lukaku

Substitutes:

J. Pereira, Romero; Bailly, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Mitchell, Tuanzebe; Fellaini, McTominay, A. Pereira; Martial

United will now head back to Europe facing Valerenga in Oslo, Sampdoria in Dublin and Real Madrid again in Macedonia, this time contesting the UEFA Super Cup. United should be ready for their Premier League opener on Sunday 13th August 2017, entertaining West Ham United at Old Trafford, after this pre-season, which is much better than last, which saw United play fewer matches, one of which was cancelled.

copyright: JW