With Manchester United having a rather tough time in the Premier League – they recently lost to both Wolves and Arsenal –, they are probably hoping for a little more luck back in the Champions League. Unfortunately for them though, the team that stands in their way is none other than the mighty Barcelona. And anyone with even a passing interest in European football knows of their lofty credentials.
However, to give some context, consider that while the shine has began to fade on United’s recent post-Mourinho comeback, Barcelona are riding high at the top of the La Liga. They have been on fine form in their home league and, based on their 5-1 mauling of Lyon in their last Champions League encounter, are remaining just as dominant elsewhere. Still, both teams are among the best club football has to offer and neither will be backing down without a fight.
Manchester United vs Barcelona Prediction: Man United 1-2 Barcelona
Unfortunately for the home team, their recent form has really made our decision for us here. That’s because to be favourites against a team like Barcelona, you really have to be knocking it out of the park more often than not to be on their performance level. And despite positives in 2019, Manchester United just haven’t managed to remain consistent enough as of late. Still, the Red Devils are tough competitors and will no doubt be aiming to bring their A-game. With that in mind, we expect a close, action-packed game, ending 2-1 in Barcelona’s favour.
Our recommended tip: Barcelona win
Sitting at the top of the La Liga standings, it’s no surprise that Barcelona are the bookmakers’ favourites for this one. The away side come into this contest with a 47% win probability compared to Manchester United’s 27% win probability. In fact, a drawn result is almost as probable as a home win at 26%. Therefore, we recommend that you back Barcelona to victory for your best chance of earning a ROI. At Paddy Power, Barcelona fans can enjoy 10/11 odds on a win, which is a much lower risk than the 13/5 Man United match odds.
It’s been closing in on a decade since these two footballing juggernauts went head-to-head. And United might be glad to have had that breathing room since they lost that contest 3-1, and the previous 2009 match 2-0. Their last victory was in 2008 where they bested Barcelona 1-0 and then went on to win the Champions League against Chelsea on penalties. That was their last decisive game since 1994. Barcelona do have a historical advantage based on their last couple of victories but we imagine it’s been long enough to dull their psychological edge.
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Players to watch: Paul Pogba & Lionel Messi
Manchester United: Paul Pogba
United may have fared just fine against Paris SG without Pogba, who was kept out of the match due to suspension, but here they face a different level of challenge. He, alongside Martial and Rashford – if the latter is healthy enough to compete – will all need to deliver in order to topple the mighty Spanish side. Paul Pogba’s impact on the Champions League may have been stalled but here he has a vital chance to make a difference.
Barcelona: Lionel Messi
Could it really be anyone else? Even by Messi’s absurdly high standards, he’s been outdoing himself lately. Messi has scored 13 goals in nine days and is absolutely key to Barcelona’s success. A prodigy that has transformed into a footballing maestro, he might be the obvious choice for player to watch but sometimes, that’s with good reason.