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BAR vs MU Preview, Team News, Prediction

By Real11 - Feb 16 2023 403 Views
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Europa League 2022/23

Play-off, 1st Leg- BAR vs MU

Preview 

Manchester United are set to take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League playoff. Barcelona finished third in their Champions League group behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, making them eligible for the Europa League knockout rounds. Since losing to Bayern in the group stage, Barcelona have excelled in domestic competitions. They are currently on a 16-game unbeaten run across all competitions, which includes nine wins in their last 10 La Liga matches. United, who have won only three of their last 14 knockout fixtures against Spanish opposition, will have their work cut out for them as they try to win their first game against Barcelona at Camp Nou at the fifth attempt.

Barcelona's near-immaculate top-flight run has coincided with a break in form from rivals and defending champions Real Madrid, and Xavi's team is now on pace to win their first La Liga title in four years, with an 11-point advantage at the top despite having played one extra game.

While Barcelona would prefer to compete in Europe's premier club competition, the prospect of becoming Europa League champions for the first time is sure to motivate Xavi and co, who have already won the Spanish Super Cup this year, as they attempt to balance domestic duties with a two-legged clash against Manchester United. Barcelona has lost five of their past 11 European games at Camp Nou, but they have won each of the last four meetings with Man United. Indeed, victories in the Champions League finals against Manchester United in 2009 and 2011 were followed by a 4-0 aggregate win in the same competition's quarter-finals in 2019.

Man United have had to grow used to the rigours of Europa League football, having competed in the league six times in the previous 12 seasons, almost 15 years after their last Champions League title in 2007-08.

The Red Devils started this year's group stage on the wrong foot, losing 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad, but Erik ten Hag's men responded well with five consecutive victories, eventually finishing second behind Group E winners Sociedad on goal difference, forcing them to enter the playoff round rather than booking an immediate qualification spot in the last 16.

Man United are still contending on all fronts this season, with an EFL Cup final against Newcastle United later this month and an FA Cup fifth-round meeting with West Ham United in March, and they are just five points off the Premier League summit, despite having two games in hand at the time of writing.

United's lead at the top of the table could have been narrowed if they hadn't dropped points in three of their past five league games. Indeed, after failing to beat Crystal Palace and Arsenal on the road in the previous month, the Red Devils salvaged a point in a 2-2 home draw with Leeds United last Wednesday before returning to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Elland Road on Sunday, thanks to late goals from Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho.

United's attention now goes to Thursday's journey to Catalonia, where they want to win their first-ever game against Barcelona at Camp Nou at the fifth attempt and take a lead into the second leg at Old Trafford in a few weeks.

The Red Devils, who have only lost four of their 16 away games in all competitions this season, will be looking to improve their record against Spanish opposition, having won only three of their past 14 such knockout encounters in European competition. United fell short against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League second round last season, losing 1-0 at home in the first game and drawing 1-1 away in the second match.

 

Form Guide

Barcelona(all competitions):

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Manchester United (all competitions):

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Team News

Barcelona will take the field without Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets, who will miss both legs of their Europa League playoff encounter due to hamstring and ankle ailments, respectively.

In Dembele's absence, one of Gavi, Ferran Torres, or Ansu Fati might play on the left wing with top scorer Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.

Gavi is another possibility to cover in for the injured Busquets in midfield, although Franck Kessie started with Frenkie de Jong and Pedri last time out, and the Ivorian might start again on Thursday.

Xavi is unlikely to make many changes to his defence, which has kept more clean sheets (16) than any other club in Europe's top five leagues this season, although he could consider replacing Alejandro Balde with experienced left-back Jordi Alba.

Man United will be without Donny van de Beek (knee), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Anthony Martial (hip), Scott McTominay (muscle), and Antony (leg), while Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer are also banned.

Casemiro, on the other hand, is eligible for selection after missing the last two Premier League games due to suspension, and the Brazilian will partner compatriot Fred in central midfield.

Ten Hag may return centre-back Raphael Varane in place of Harry Maguire, while Jadon Sancho might stay on the right wing, partnering Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Wout Weghorst in attack.

 

Possible Starting XIs 

BAR: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; Pedri, De Jong, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi

MU: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Shaw, Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Weghorst

 

Match Prediction

We say BAR 2-2 MU

The upcoming clash between Barcelona and Manchester United on Thursday promises to be a thrilling encounter. Barcelona has been in excellent form lately and will be hopeful of a positive outcome. However, they will face a stern challenge from a resurgent Manchester United side, who have been improving steadily under the guidance of coach Ten Hag.

It's unclear whether the match will be a high-scoring affair or a tightly contested battle, but we expect it to be a mix of both, gradually evolving into an entertaining spectacle. In the end, we anticipate a closely fought match with the spoils shared, making for an exciting first-leg tie at Camp Nou.

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