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Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag has already been dealt a huge suspension setback for Barcelona clash

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag has already been dealt a huge suspension setback for Barcelona clash

The discovery of Manchester United’s Europa League opponents for the round of 16 has dealt head coach Erik ten Hag a devastating blow.

In February,  Manchester United will face Barcelona in a fascinating matchup, but the Dutchman’s preparations will be hampered by the suspension of crucial player Lisandro Martinez for the first leg.

Martinez is one of the best signings of the season after he rapidly adapted to life in the Premier League, starting all 19 games his team has played since his £56 million transfer from Ajax.

The Argentine is seen as Ten Hag’s lieutenant, and he has been vital in helping to shore up the defense, relegating club captain Harry Maguire to the bench.

But the 24-year-old will miss the match on February 16 at the Camp Nou after receiving his third yellow card of the Europa League season against Real Sociedad in Thursday’s 1-0 victory in San Sebastian.

The central defender’s reckless challenge on goalscorer Carlos Fernandez earned him a yellow card from referee Georgi Kabakov and an automatic one-match suspension.

Martinez will be punished after receiving three cautions in six competition outings. In addition to his ticket in the 87th minute against Omonia Nicosia, he was cautioned versus Sociedad in the rematch at Old Trafford.

And the central defender will pay dearly for his transgressions, as he will miss the trip to Catalonia.

Ten Hag will be aware of the threat provided by Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Ousmane Dembele in the Barcelona assault in Martinez’s absence.

As a result of Raphael Varane’s injury against Chelsea last month, which ruled him out of the World Cup, the 52-year-old is at least aware that his replacement will be quite uncomplicated to select.

Ten Hag paired Lindelof with Martinez in the 3-1 loss to Aston Villa, and the Swede is certain to retain his position on the right side of the centre-back pairing if Varane is sidelined.

Maguire would be asked to deputize on the left flank if the 29-year-old is healthy and Varane remains out for the first leg in three months.

Maguire has made only four appearances for United this season due to a dismal run of play, with his early-season individual errors costing United dearly. However, his better performance in October’s 1-0 victory over West Ham suggested he could be relied upon in the upcoming months with Varane out injured.

And the same will hold true in Barcelona if Maguire is called upon to face Martinez, with the £80 million man utilizing his expertise to ensure that Martinez’s absence is not noticed by his teammates.

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag has already been dealt a huge suspension setback for Barcelona clash

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