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Barcelona vs Manchester United
Last Wednesday Barcelona travelled to Old Trafford and put in a rather lethargic performance in their first leg tie against Manchester United, but despite the lack of free flowing football, they still managed to claim a vital 1-0 lead in the tie thanks to an unfortunate and unavoidable own goal from Luke Shaw.
The Catalan giants, holding a healthy nine point lead at the top of La Liga, were afforded the chance to rest some key figures at the weekend when they played out a drab goalless draw against Huesca. This leaves the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Nelson Semedo, and Clement Lenglet well rested for this tie, while Jordi Alba, Phillipe Coutinho, and Arthur were all played from the bench at the weekend.
Manchester United were afforded no such liberty as their war for a Premier League top four spot continued. Their full contingent of stars played some part in a 2-1 win against West Ham, increasing their chances of Champions League qualification but further decreasing their hopes of Champions League progression.
Wednesday will be tough for the visitors. Even after their incredible comeback in Paris, there is no denying that the odds are stacked against them here. Barcelona haven’t lost a Champions League game at the Camp Nou since a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in 2013, and since then they have won 27 of their 30 matches in the competition.
This season they have shown some of their weaknesses when playing away from home, but it’s been business as usual back in Catalonia. They thrashed Lyon 5-1 after a goalless draw in France in the last 16, so even with Manchester United’s numerous Champions League heroics away from home this season, they are unlikely to pull off another miracle here.
What we can expect from this tie is a few goals. 16 of Barcelona’s last 20 home games in the Champions League have seen at least three goals scored, as have each of Manchester United’s last four away games in the competition. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, Man Utd have seen three or more goals in seven of their 12 competitive games.