Manchester United is coming off Barcelona’s nightmare: the Roma disaster

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Leg 2 UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals

Barcelona enter this leg as 1-0 aggregate leaders, despite ironically, having not scored a goal. If you follow my pieces regularly, you’ll find this one to be much shorter, there just hasn’t been enough time between games. My players to watch haven’t changed, so if you are interested in those — check out last week’s leg one post.

Barcelona leads on aggregate withoutscoring?

Much as I anticipated, Barcelona reacted to their position in La Liga by resting Messi before the second leg. They also rested Coutinho and Jordi Alba for all but 20′ of the match. They drew with 20th placed Huesca but still have a 9 point cushion. Barcelona need to ensure that they don’t get complacent as we enter the second leg. Barcelona has had a rough stint in the last few seasons with getting past the quarters, and they will undoubtedly be thinking about…Roma.

Last Champions League game:

Although Barcelona won the first leg, I imagine some Barcelona supporters are still worry about the “Roma disaster” where Barcelona managed to lose despite a 4-1 lead in the first leg.

Highs:

  • Barcelona have three straight clean sheets in all competitions.
  • Defensively Barcelona looked good and blocked away anything that might have been on target.
  • Barcelona dominated possession with nearly 67% of the ball.
  • Marc Andre Ter Stegen is a world class keeper as well.
  • They have a one goal advantage heading home.

Lows:

  • Barcelona were outshot by Manchester United, although they did manage three on target (compared to three blocked shots for United).
  • Despite the defensive problems for United, the offense was stymied.
  • Their big contributors haven’t managed to make big time contributions in this round.
  • Like de Gea, Ter Stegen has been unable to keep many clean sheets.
  • Barca was unable to beat the 20th-ranked Huesca side in the Midweek. They’ll be hoping that form doesn’t carryover.

Manchester United is hoping for PSG all over again.

Manchester United continue to struggle mightily, even though they were projected to have one of the best clean sheet chances of the weekend. In my opinion — and you’re here, so bold prediction that’s what you’re after — the Red Devils we’re vastly outplayed for most of the game. Yes, I know they won the game, but the concession was made possible by a poor clearance by de Gea. He made some great stops, but the visitors probably should have had more than a one goal cushion, one in particular. Michail Antonio absolutely destroyed the crossbar for the denial of the equalizer.

Last Champions League game:

There are some highs and some lows that accompany the first leg against Barcelona.

Highs:

  • No Barcelona player scored. That means they held Ivan Rakitic, Phillippe Coutinho, Luis Sitze, and Lionel Messi off the scoresheet.
  • Barcelona only hold a one goal lead despite some poor performances all around.
  • Dalot filled in well against West Ham and Marcus Rojo returned to the pitch for a 75′ cameo.
  • de Gea is a world-class keeper and continues to make absolutely incredible saves to keep United in games.
  • United were able to regain their composure after the 12′ Luke Shaw own goal.

Lows:

  • Luke Shaw scored for Barcelona. Not really an ideal spot for a “cute” little backheel whack.
  • Still plagued by injuries with Ander Herrera, Matic, Bailly, and Sanchez.
  • They have 1 clean sheet in the last ten matches (across all competitions) dating back to February 24th.
  • While United outshot Barcelona, they failed to record a single shot on goal.

Regardless, if United want to continue in this tournament they’ll need to do better. I don’t think then can equal Barcelona in their current form trying to match goals, I think they are going to need to keep a clean sheet here. If United can do that and get a 1-0 victory they would be tied on away goals, which could lead to extra time.

What to expect in this Champions League game:

Barcelona will come into this game being chased by Roma shadows. They’ll want to set the record straight and I think they’ll look to attack from the first whistle. I think this may also be a playing still to United’s advantage, they have been good on the counter, even while they’ve struggled in the run of play. Manchester United will be trying to play off the PSG comeback momentum along with their first win in a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one goes down to extra time, maybe even penalty shoot out. Although, if Barcelona can get everyone involved and take advantage of the rest, it could be a rough day for traveling reds.

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Last Updated: April 15, 2019

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