It was an enthralling encounter at the Camp Nou last week as Barcelona and Man Utd traded blows in a flurry of leather. After a somewhat tentative opening 45 minutes, the touch-paper was lit in the second half and the contest descended into a back-and-forth affair, finishing in an entertaining 2-2 stalemate.
The result has set up this tie perfectly. Erik ten Hag will be acutely aware that Man Utd have only won one of their last 11 games against Barcelona in European competition, but he will also be all too aware that this current version of the Catalan club is also not quite the Lionel Messi-inspired beast of a decade ago.
And it showed in the first leg, as they diced through Xavi’s backline with liquid ease at times. Marcus Rashford was the architect for both goals, first restoring parity two minutes after Marcos Alonso broke the deadlock, peeling down the right before squeezing a strike past Marc-Andre ter Stegen from a prohibitively tight angle.
The England international then dismissively shimmied past Raphinha before unleashing a low drive into the box that deflected off Jules Kounde into his own net. The former Leeds winger turned from villain to hero shortly after to grab an equaliser 15 minutes from time, and subsequently tee up this mouthwatering second leg.
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Man Utd vs Barcelona match stats
Marcus Rashford has averaged a goal every 76 minutes for Man Utd in the Europa League this season (scoring four goals in total). That is the best ratio of any player to have played at least 300 minutes in the competition so far in 2022/23. In terms of his overall form, the England international has scored more Premier League goals than any other player since the World Cup (10) and is the only Man Utd player to rack up a double-digit tally (24 goals) this campaign.
Barca have a pretty decent goal-getter, too. Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Robert Lewandowski has netted 38 goals in 32 appearances in major European competition – more than any other player in that period. He will be champing at the bit to grab a goal at Old Trafford in what will be his first appearance at the famous stadium, particularly after he was defanged at the Camp Nou last week.
16 Feb 2023 – Barcelona 2-2 Man Utd – Europa League
16 Apr 2019 – Barcelona 3-0 Man Utd – Champions League
10 Apr 2019 – Man Utd 0-1 Barcelona – Champions League
28 May 2011 – Barcelona 3-1 Man Utd – Champions League
27 May 2009 – Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd – Champions League
Other than the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and last week’s Europa League meeting, these two clubs have only ever met in the Champions League. Their most notable tussles include those famous finals in 2009 and 2011. On both occasions Pep Guardiola got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson, winning the Rome showpiece courtesy of goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi. It was that man Messi who then produced the goods in 2011 at Wembley, notching a brace to condemn Man Utd to another runners-up medal.
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