Fans were made to wait for nearly eight years for a meeting Manchester United vs Barcelona meeting in a competitive match. Last time, these two giants met, in the final of 2010-11 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley, the Catalans ran amock, winning it 3-1. Two seasons' ago, the same thing had happened in Rome. And one of the constants in those two finals was Lionel Messi pulling the strings.
They have since met in various friendly arrangements, and as expected of such fixtures, none of those meetings have managed to impress the fans. But tonight, the rivalry will resume at the Old Trafford. And once again, the spotlight will be on Messi.
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Barcelona, with or without Messi can still intimidate any side on the world. But with the little Argentine, the Catalans become an altogether different beast. And that beast is hungry. They have not been continental champions for some time even as their eternal rivals Real Madrid had completed a hat-trick of titles before they were unceremoniously knocked out in the Round of 16 by a young Ajax outfit. Last time, Barca lifted the Big Ears was in 2015.
For Manchester United, it's been a long road to redemption since the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Under him, the Red Devils won two Champions League titles in 1999 and 2008, and were runners-up to Barca twice. Now that they have installed one of Fergie's favourites, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager, United can hope to start afresh. And Barca's visit to the Theatre of Dreams provides just the perfect opportunity for the believers to start dreaming again.
All You Need To Know About The Match
Match: UEFA Champions League, Quarter-final, first leg between Manchester United and Barcelona
Date: April 11 (Thursday)
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
TV Guide: Sony Ten 2 & HD 2
Live Streaming: Sony Liv, JioTV
In the previous eight meetings, Barcelona have won three, while United were victorious in one. There were three draws too.
Form Guide (Latest first):
United: Lost to Wolves 1-2 in Premier League, Beat Watford 2-1 in Premier League, Lost to Wolves 1-2 in FA Cup, Lost to Arsenal 0-2 in Premier League, Beat PSG 3-1 in Champions League;
Barca: Beat Atletico 2-0 in La Liga, Hold 4-4 by Villareal in La Liga, Beat Espanyol 2-0 in La Liga, Beat Betis 4-1 in La Liga, Beat Lyon 5-1 in Champions League
- Barcelona are undefeated in their last 8 Champions League matches and unbeaten in their last 16 matches in all competitions
- United host Barcelona for the first time since 2008. In that match, Paul Scholes scored the lone goal.
- United have lost three of their last four matches.
Prediction: United 1 - 3 Barcelona
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford; Romelu Lukaku
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc Andre Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho
Manager: Ernesto Valverde
Match referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)