In the Champions League you never quite know what you’re going to get, regardless of who may seem like the favourite in any given game. In this encounter many fans were already considering Barca to be a semi finalist before they’d even got the win, and even though the Spaniards managed to come away with the first leg advantage, it wasn’t as cut and dry as it seems.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to have set his team up in a way that would frustrate Barcelona, and at times, it certainly seemed to work. Lionel Messi was the main attraction at Old Trafford as you’d expect, but he wasn’t quite able to turn it on in the same kind of fashion as years prior. He’s still the best in the world, obviously, but it’s worth noting.
When the game got underway it felt like an early goal could be on the horizon, and that feeling was accurate. Luis Suarez’s header was turned in off of defender Luke Shaw to give the visitors the lead with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock, in a goal that was initially given as offside. If you don’t believe in VAR, then you should start doing so now.
De Gea was able to prevent Barca from adding to their advantage, and in doing so, may have allowed United to remain in this tie. The La Liga champions were still pretty quiet by their standards, but United deserve some plaudits for being able to keep them at bay.
In the reverse fixture United only need one goal in order to take the tie into extra time, although it doesn’t seem like many folks believe that’s a realistic prospect for him. United may as well be out based on the talk that we’re hearing from the masses, even though there’s a whole second leg to deal with.
This certainly felt like something of a prequel to what could be to come at the Nou Camp, which is a prospect that fans around the world should be incredibly excited about.
Manchester United: De Gea (6.5), Shaw (6), Smalling (6.5), Lindelof (6.5), Dalot (6.5), Pogba (6.5), Fred (6.5), McTominay (6.5), Young (6), Rashford (6.5), Lukaku (6), Lingard (6), Martial (6), Pereira (6)
Barcelona: Der Stegen (6.5), Semedo (7), Pique (7.5), Lenglet (7), Alba (7), Rakitic (6.5), Busquets (6.5), Arthur (6.5), Messi (7), Suarez (6.5), Coutinho (6.5), Roberto (6), Alena (6), Vidal (6)
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
Goals: Shaw OG
Yellow Cards: Smalling, Shaw, Lingard, Busquets, Vidal
Red Cards: N/A
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