Can Manchester United produce another unlikely comeback in Europe when they travel to face Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League soccer quarter-final at the Camp Nou on Tuesday (3pm ET)?
Man Utd came back from a 0-2 defeat at Old Trafford to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain on away goals in the round-of-16. Although the margin is slimmer this time at 0-1, it is somewhat more difficult to see Barcelona allowing them the same opportunity to fight back.
Barca took an early in last week’s first leg when Lionel Messi’s lofted far-post delivery was headed back across goal by Luis Suarez and deflected in off United defender Luke Shaw. While United did have some spells thereafter in which they pushed men forward, they created nothing of note. Indeed, they didn’t muster a single shot on target.
Barcelona worked a couple of decent situations through the off-ball runs of second-half substitute Sergi Roberto, but they were unable to convert them into good-quality chances. Otherwise, they appeared very much content to play within themselves, not overcommit, and carry their 1-0 advantage into the return.
Back at the Camp Nou, they will be confident of finishing the tie off. Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 30 Champions League matches there, a run stretching back to 2013. They have only lost two, and have won 20, of their 33 European matches at home to English opposition. They have emerged triumphant from seven of their last eight two-legged ties against Premier League teams prior to this quarter-final.
More globally, Barcelona have lost just one of their last 84 home matches in all competitions. During that run, they have only conceded more than a single goal, the tally United would have to match to have any chance of going through without requiring penalties to do so, 11 times. On six of those occasions, they still outscored their opponents.
With a solid defensive structure, and the possibility of introducing the pace and directness of Malcom and Ousmane Dembele into his attack if required, Ernesto Valverde is certainly in a strong position to better his side’s run to the last eight of last year’s Champions League.
His opposite number, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his players to believe like its 1999. It was then, at the Camp Nou, that he scored the second of United’s two injury time goals that saw them come back from a goal down to defeat Bayern Munich and lift the Champions League trophy. “We can do it,” he said after the first leg. “No doubt about it.”
His confidence in his side’s attacking capabilities is partially justified by the fact that they have scored at least once in 11 of his 12 away matches at the helm in all competitions. Man Utd have triumphed in seven of them by score lines that would see them progress if repeated on Tuesday. However United don’t exactly come into the return in good form.
Solskjaer’s side did record a 2-1 win at home to West Ham on Saturday, with two Paul Pogba penalties early and late on. They came either side of an away equaliser, seeing Man Utd to the three points and keeping them in top-four contention. They have lost four of their last six at all venues and three on the bounce away from home.
Neither does United’s recent history suggest a turnaround is likely. They have won none of their last seven and just two of their last 16 matches against Spanish opposition. In 25 matches away to Spanish sides in Europe, they have won just three times. They have also been eliminated on the two previous occasions they have suffered a 0-1 first-leg defeat on home soil.
Barca are yet to concede across their three Champions League knockout encounters. They can be expected to advance to the final four by shutting United out and perhaps notching a goal or two of their own on Tuesday.
Our Preview’s Barca vs Manchester United Picks & Predictions Verdict
Having perused the available betting options from the major American recommended sports betting websites, this is our sole pick in this UCL soccer match:
- Play the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market with Bovada Sportsbook. Bet on ‘Barcelona Win And No’ @ +150 (6/4). This is the same as having a bet for ‘Barcelona to win to nil’.