On Wednesday night, Barcelona recorded a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League quarter-final first leg. The only goal of the game was a 12th-minute own goal from full-back Luke Shaw.
In truth, though the Catalan giants were nowhere near their best at Old Trafford. Ernesto Valverde’s side is sure to produce a much better performance in the second leg at Nou Camp next week.
A missed opportunity
With teams like Barcelona, to beat them you have to take advantage when they are not quite at their best. Last night is a missed opportunity for Manchester United. While the visitors were not at their best, neither were the Red Devils.
On their day, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team have enough to trouble Barcelona. However, somehow, they failed to get a single shot on target against the Catalan giants, a first for United in the Champions League since 2005.
The first leg of this tie was always going to be vital in deciding which team made it through to the semi-finals. United had to win or they would make it very difficult for themselves for the second leg at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona are not PSG
Manchester United managed to pull off a big comeback against PSG in the last round. The Red Devils were trailing 2-0 from the first leg at Old Trafford, only to win the second leg in Paris 3-1 and advance on the away goal rule.
However, PSG are not of the same standard as Barcelona. If United would have lost 1-0 at the Nou Camp they would still have a chance of turning things around. However, going to the Nou Camp and needing a win is a bad scenario for Solskjaer’s team.
Roma eliminated Barcelona last season at the quarter-final stages. However, the second leg was in Rome. Barcelona are a formidable force on home soil, with the home crowd behind them. As United boss Solskjaer has stated, if United progress to the last four, then it will be a far more impressive victory than their win in Rome.
PSG have a record of bottling it in the Champions League at key stages. Barcelona are highly unlikely to bottle it on home soil with the chance of making yet another Champions League semi-final at stake. In the unlikely event of Barcelona not turning up, then the Red Devils may still have a slim chance of progression.
Barcelona remain favourites to win the trophy
The Catalan giants started the campaign as one of the favourites to lift the Champions League trophy this season. Not much has changed as Barcelona are favourites to win the Champions League at odds of 5/2.
Meanwhile, if as expected, Manchester United exit the competition at the quarter-final stage, then they can be proud of making it to the last eight in such a troubled season. That assessment is not to patronise the Red Devils.
It is more that United are now not on the same level as Barcelona on the pitch. It is nothing to be ashamed of, as few teams have been in recent years.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has a lot of work to do to turn things around at Old Trafford. The Norwegian will be looking to turn United into a team that can compete with the likes of Barcelona on an even keel in the future.
However, they are not quite there just yet and the new United boss will know just exactly what it takes to turn United into a European force once more.
Can Manchester United win in Barcelona next week?
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