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Five reasons why Manchester United can defeat Barcelona in Europa League fixture

Five reasons why Manchester United can defeat Barcelona in Europa League fixture

When Manchester United faces Barcelona in the Europa League play-off at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, they will aim to achieve a remarkable victory. United last defeated Barcelona in 2008, and they believe they have a good chance of advancing to the last-16 of the tournament after a 2-2 draw in the Camp Nou last Thursday.

Barcelona managed to earn a draw with Raphinha’s 76th-minute equaliser after Marcus Rashford had scored and then assisted in a Jules Kounde own-goal to reverse the game’s course following Marcos Alonso’s opening goal five minutes after half-time. The result puts United in a favorable position to succeed and keep their European aspirations for this season alive.

SportsDias has examined five factors that should give Manchester United confidence about their chances of success in the upcoming match against Barcelona:

Previous success: United has previously beaten Barcelona in important matches, such as the 2008 Champions League final, which should give them a boost of confidence.

Home advantage: The match is taking place at Old Trafford, which is United’s home ground, and they have a good record there, having not lost a European match at home in two years.

Good form at Home

There are few football grounds that can match the intimidating atmosphere of Old Trafford at this moment. Manchester United has transformed their home stadium into the impregnable fortress it was renowned for, using it as a cornerstone of their success under Ten Hag this season.

In their recent 3-0 victory over Leicester City, United recorded their 14th win in 15 matches at Old Trafford, emphasizing their dominance at home. Only Leeds United has managed to prevent United from winning on their own turf since October 16.

In all competitions, the Reds have lost just three of their 21 home matches this season, indicating how challenging it has been for visiting teams to get the better of them. After the match on Sunday, Ten Hag urged the fans to create an electrifying atmosphere, and it’s a certainty that they will rise to the occasion.

Rashford’s unstoppable form 

The question on every opposing manager’s mind when facing United in the upcoming weeks is how to prevent Rashford from scoring.

 The academy graduate is currently in excellent form and has even broken his own record for the number of goals scored in a single season against Leicester.

 He has already scored 24 goals this season and has a high likelihood of increasing that number against Barcelona. Rashford has been on a scoring streak, having scored six goals in his last five games and an impressive 16 goals in just 17 games since he returned from the World Cup in December.

 He is versatile in his goal-scoring techniques, capable of scoring from both wide positions and through the middle, displaying a cool demeanor while doing so. With Rashford’s current form, United may already have an advantage even before the game begins.

Big-game experience

This season, United have secured victories at home against major opponents such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur. They have also managed to draw away against Chelsea and Barcelona. 

United have demonstrated a knack for succeeding in important matches, particularly when playing at home. The only significant loss they have experienced was a 6-3 defeat at the hands of City in October. 

Otherwise, they have consistently kept up with the strongest teams throughout the season and have comfortably defeated weaker ones. Under Ten Hag’s leadership, United have adopted a winning philosophy and strive to maintain exceptional standards, which has helped them to know precisely how to achieve success.

Casemiro returns

After being suspended for the final game of his domestic ban against Leicester, Casemiro is expected to make a comeback to the starting line-up against Barcelona. He started in the first leg of the previous week and demonstrated a typically commanding performance in the midfield.

United typically perform better when Casemiro is on the field. Although they managed to secure seven points in the three league games he missed due to his ban, their performances, particularly in the first halves of those games, were below their usual standards.

Casemiro has played an instrumental role in improving United’s fortunes this season, and his presence on the field is sure to provide a significant boost to the team. However, it is uncertain who will be paired with him in the midfield, with both Marcel Sabitzer and Fred available for selection.

Barcelona lose their young guns

Barcelona’s troubles multiplied in the previous match against United, following Pedri’s injury and Gavi’s yellow card in the second half, which now rules him out of the next game at Old Trafford. This yellow card was Gavi’s third caution in Barcelona’s European campaign, resulting in a one-match suspension for him.

With both Pedri and Gavi absent, Barcelona’s midfield has been weakened, causing them to lose two of their brightest young talents. However, they can count on the return of Sergio Busquets, who is fit and available to play, and is expected to start in the upcoming match.

Five reasons why Manchester United can defeat Barcelona in Europa League fixture

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