Manchester United will face FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. The sides have not met in the competition since the 2011 final at Wembley, and though a lot has changed in that time, Lionel Messi and co. are still top competitors. Manchester United won’t have an easy task against arguably the best player/club side in the world, but with Ole at the wheel anything can happen.
The Busby Babe staff are here to give their reactions to United’s quarterfinal matchup, and briefly preview the tie to come.
Barcelona, ugh. Things could get a bit Messi...
Barcelona definitely don’t appear to be as menacing as the side that won everything in 2015, but Messi is Messi, a nuclear option that at any moment can take the day by himself for the Blaugranas. Defense will have their hands full. On the other end of the pitch I’m pretty confident United can create chances of their own. Everyone should be healthy by the first leg on April 10th, and the return of a Martial-Rashford-Lingard front 3 would be ideal for this fixture. United simply cannot head into the Nou Camp behind on aggregate. PSG fell victim to United’s dramatic squad change, key mistakes, and the burden of their previous failures in the competition. Barcelona don’t make mistakes as easily, especially at home.
However, as we learned in Paris, this United team is capable of pulling off the unexpected. Barcelona aren’t as invincible as they once were. Maybe Gary Neville will have his first orgasm since the 2012 semi-final.
Barcelona is a wonderful city. The Camp Nou is a brilliant ground. United have had some excellent memories against the blaugrana over the years — that Cole and Yorke goal, that Scholes strike at Old Trafford — and of course, our current manager scored the most famous winner in competition history in their ground. What’s not to love?
Yes, we’ve been handed the toughest possible draw. But this is what it’s all about. We’ve already won in Paris and Turin this season, so Barcelona should hold no fear. If we lose, better to go out in glory; attacking Barcelona in their own stadium, rather than stumbling out playing cowardly football against some lesser team. And if we win…well. WELL.
Now, if you’ll excuse, I’m off to YouTube to scout Barça’s #10, Misse (sp?), I hear he’s quite good.
At first, seeing the Barça draw gave me the same feeling that the PSG draw did — especially after seeing Liverpool and Man City getting easier draws (sorry Spurs). However, I’m getting swept up with the destiny talk surrounding this club. Solskjaer is saving the club 20 years after delivering the winning goal in the Champions League Final. Now, we can get revenge on the team that beat us in the final exactly 10 years ago. I’m excited for what the lads can accomplish against one of the tournament favorites.
Very tough matchup against the strongest team left in the Champions League field. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put on a brave face after the draw, but Barcelona is hardly the ideal opponent. Neither was PSG, though, and that turned out pretty well. United definitely have the quality — and, more importantly, the confidence — to take down the La Liga leaders, but they’ll have to put together two near-perfect performances to pull it off. The Reds defense shut down Mbappé in Paris and will need more of the same against Messi and Suarez.
Wanted City four times in April, but this’ll do. 2011 still smarts. Can Ole and his team outdo the script played out in Paris, versus Barcelona, in Barcelona, 20 years on...? It’s all getting a bit daft, really. Liverpool in the semi-final? Thank goodness it’s not Mourinho drunk at the wheel in these. They’ll have a decent go, United, and that’s all you can ask for. Can’t wait.
The Match of the Day Facebook page recently asked followers that if they could reverse the score of one match in history, what would it be? Would United fans choose the 1-0 loss to City in ’74? Brian Gayle’s own goal that handed Leeds the title in ’92? Failure to beat West Ham in ’95? For me, it would’ve been the loss to Barcelona in 2009. History has whitewashed elements of Pep’s first Champions League victory as manager, and Barca were not then the team they would soon become. It was United’s to win and on the biggest stage, United were outmuscled. It was United’s last chance to beat Barcelona, and I fear this two-legged tie will provide no reprieve. Ole’s Manchester United are far removed from where they were in December, but what Manchester United fans should hope for is to see a demonstration of character and grit from their team that will act as a foundation for seasons ahead.