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The first leg was a classic, hope the second leg is better
There are just a handful of teams that entice this amount of anticipation for a fixture, whether it be a Champions League final or a contest in the knockout stages of Europe’s secondary club competition.
But Manchester United and Barcelona are in the exclusive club that possesses that level of pedigree.
Spanish outfit Barcelona managed to escape their home tie with two goals apiece thanks to a late Raphinha strike that caught Manchester United’s backline by surprise. The unlikely scorer Marcos Alonso found himself unmarked at the far post to nick his side the lead just after the break. Moments later, a deafening Marcus Rashford finish levelled things up. His individual brilliance proved to be a handful just minutes after as his cross caused one too many problems for the Barcelona defence and specifically Jules Kounde, who turned the ball into his own net.
Both managers have taken on an immense project with their respective clubs and have done a fine job. Now, on the big stage, they have a chance to progress against a European stalwart to really stamp their authority, but which will come out as the victor?
Barcelona’s midfield is baring thin with Pedri and Gavi unavailable through injury and suspension, respectively. Although those two players are crucial to Xavi’s blueprint, he will be thanking his lucky stars that veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets is fit for selection if Xavi desires.
Lisandro Martínez returns to the fold after missing the first tie through suspension. The bolstered strength to the heart of Manchester United will possibly unsettle the Barcelona attackers.
The extraordinary Frenkie de Jong transfer saga in the summer is still fresh in the minds of the Old Trafford faithful and will be certain to give the Catalonian midfielder quite the reception.
Their fruitless pursuit of the midfielder turned sour quickly and despite the Dutchman having a quiet night on his home turf, he may turn up a notch in his team’s visit to England.