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Champions League: Can Man United Repeat Comeback Magic?


Champions League: Can Man United Repeat Comeback Magic?

Barcelona vs Manchester United

Manchester United find themselves in a familiar situation in the Champions League quarter-finals. After suffering a first-leg defeat at Old Trafford, United must travel to the Camp Nou to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

Barca had a conservative gameplan in the first leg at Old Trafford, which worked out quite well. United found the Spanish side very tough to break down and did not register a single shot on target. Barcelona are now well-positioned to make the last four of the Champions League for the first time in four years.

The Red Devils already pulled off a huge shock when they overturned a two-goal deficit away from home against Paris Saint-Germain. And 20 years ago, they pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in Champions League history at the Camp Nou.

But as the Barcelona vs Manchester United betting odds indicate, coming up with another epic away result will be a monumental task, to say the least.

Talking Points

Messi, Barca well-rested

As expected, Barcelona had Manchester United and the Champions League on their mind over the weekend. Manager Ernesto Valverde made wholesale changes for their trip to Huesca, which resulted in a 0-0 draw.

Lionel Messi — who was left bloodied after a collision with United defender Chris Smalling in the first leg — was rested, along with Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, and Gerard Pique. All of those stars should be back in the line-up for United’s visit to the Camp Nou, though.

Messi has been in simply stunning form of late, scoring 13 goals with four assists in his last 10 games for Barca. While his face will be worse for wear no thanks to Smalling, his legs should be fresh and ready to go after getting some much-needed rest.

Barca clearly didn’t bother exerting themselves too hard in the first leg, and thanks to United’s lack of cutting edge, they didn’t need to. But now that they’re at home, they should adopt a somewhat more aggressive approach.

The Camp Nou has been a fortress all season long. They’ve lost just once in 24 home games in all competitions, and that one setback came all the way back in November. They’ve also scored in each and every one of those games.

Solskjaer magic spell wearing off

Manchester United may have picked up a win against West Ham United over the weekend, but once again, they were far from convincing. That has been the worrying trend for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad over the past few weeks.

Prior to their win over West Ham, they had lost four of their previous five games — twice against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And in their one win during that span against Watford, they were outshot, 20-8.

There’s a growing sense that the Solskjaer’s new manager magic has finally worn off. The attack hasn’t looked as fluid as it did when he first took over. Meanwhile, the defence continues to be a problem; United haven’t had a clean sheet in their last nine games.

Preventing Barcelona from scoring at the Camp Nou will obviously be tough. Although, United are still dangerous on the counter-attack and could have more opportunities to break if Barca commit more players forward at home.

United have lost their last three away games in all competitions. Their last win outside Old Trafford was their remarkable 3-1 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, which was without question one of the most improbable Champions League 2019 results.

However, United got very lucky in that match as their first two goals came from PSG errors, while their winner came from a very fortuitous VAR-awarded penalty following a handball. They obviously can’t expect to get as lucky again at the Camp Nou.

History

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United are no strangers to epic comebacks at the Camp Nou. They famously got two stoppage-time goals — with Solskjaer scoring the second — to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the 1999 Champions League final.

But that game aside, the other pieces of history are not on United’s side heading into the second leg.

While they did overturn a 2-0 home defeat against PSG to progress, that was only the fourth time in Champions League history that a team has gone through after losing the home first leg.

Now they must win at the Camp Nou, which will take some doing. For one, Barcelona are undefeated in their last 30 Champions League matches. They set that new record after demolishing Lyon 5-1 in the round of 16.

Moreover, United have won just two of their last 16 matches against Spanish clubs (six draws, eight losses), and none of their last seven (three draws, four losses). Apart from their first-leg loss, they also drew at home and lost away against Valencia in the group stage.

Betting Tip

Barcelona Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.13

No matter how you look at it, this is a bad spot for United. Their recent form has been horrendous, with Solskjaer seemingly unable to find any answers to solve their current slide.

And on the other side, Barca have been close to unbeatable at home and will be the fresher of the two after resting their stars over the weekend.

There seems to be just one likely outcome from that combination, which is a comfortable win for Barcelona. The hosts are priced at 1.39 to win in the 1X2 market, while United are a whopping 7.80 to come away with the shock victory.

Barca are also priced at 2.13 to win by 1.50 goals on the SBOBET Asian handicap sports betting market, which would also be a wise way to go.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 


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