The events of the first game and the subsequent break.
The first game turned out to be as intense as possible, although few expected that up to four goals would be scored. A modest 1:1 seemed much more logical with the transfer of the main part of the intrigue (and the brightest) already to England, but the teams became generous and gave a productive draw with an open and attacking game.
Despite Barça’s territorial possession (61% vs. 39%), the guests were even more astute, creating slightly more dangerous chances, but with a meager margin. In general, a draw is more than just a fair and logical result.
Photo source: IMAGO
After the first match, the rivals played rounds in the domestic championships. United easily took three points from Leicester (3:0), where Marcus Rashford scored another brace, and Barcelona, playing at half strength, easily beat newcomer Cádiz (2:0).
Compared to the first game, Manchester United does not expect any changes. Erik ten Hag did not opt for a global rotation in the Premier League, limiting himself to just a couple of changes. For example, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka sat on the bench and also had to miss the Casemiro match (disqualification).
Christian Eriksen, Donny van de Beek, and the condition of Anthony Martial, Anthony and Harry Maguire remain in doubt, but all these losses should not greatly affect Manchester United’s strength.
Barcelona can only envy Manchester United’s preparation for the second leg. Xavi will not be able to take advantage of three players, but most importantly, they are key, that is, Pedri, Gavi and Ousmane Dembele will not play. And if the last of them can successfully replace Rafinha, who scored a goal and provided an assist in the first game, then a huge hole has formed in midfield.
I’m sure Xavi will turn to a trio of Frenkie de Jong, Frank Kessier and Sergi Roberto, which in itself doesn’t look so bad, but it will still be difficult without Pedri and Gavi. The option with Sergio Busquets is not ruled out, but then the guests will lose a lot in the creation.
Statistics and facts
• Manchester United have only won once in their last 11 games against Barcelona (D5 L5). The last victory dates back to 2008.
• Manchester United have lost 2 of their last 11 games at Old Trafford (6 wins and 3 draws). It is noteworthy that both defeats were inflicted by the Spanish teams: Atlético Madrid and Real Sociedad.
• Marcus Rashford has scored every 76 minutes in the Europa League this season.
• United are unbeaten in 17 consecutive home games.
• Barcelona are unbeaten in 10 consecutive away games.
• Frenchman Clement Turpin is the referee with 3 red cards in his last 10 games. He also conceded 4 penalties.
• Manchester United’s top scorer Marcus Rashford has scored or assisted in 13 of his last 15 games at Old Trafford.
• Catalan striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 98 goals in 137 European games in his career. In the Europa League, his last goal was scored in the 2010/11 season, when he played for Borussia Dortmund.