11 April 2019
After pulling off a stunning comeback against PSG in the Champions League last-16 tie, Manchester United take on another European heavyweights as Barcelona arrive at Old Trafford for the first leg of their quarter-finals tie.
The hosts are not enjoying the best of times given the fact they’ve lost three of their last four games across all competitions (W1, L3), conceding exactly two goals in all three of their failures in that period. Although the Red Devils won six of nine home clashes since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho (W6, D2, L1), United’s defensive issues have continued, as they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in seven home games under the Norwegian manager. Man Utd have experienced a little success at Old Trafford in the CL this campaign (W2, D1, L1), scoring barely one goal in those four fixtures. However, the one thing Solskjaer has managed to improve is United’s performance in the final third, with Romelu Lukaku and Co. bagging 2+ match goals in seven home fixtures, failing to find the net twice though.
On the other hand, the visitors have already matched their CL success from the last three season after booking their ticket for the quarter-finals, but they now look to break into the semis for the first time since lifting the crown back in the 2014-15 campaign. Unbeaten in their last six outings across all competitions (W5, D1), the Catalans hope to post their third back-to-back win over Man Utd after beating the Premier League outfit in two CL finals (2009 and 2011). Five wins and three draws in their last eight competitive road meetings give Ernesto Valverde plenty of reasons to hope for a positive outcome here, especially because of the fact Barca have kept a clean slate in five games during that period. Moreover, the Blaugrana have bagged 3+ match goals on four of their previous five road trips across the competitions, showing they’ve rediscovered the ‘killer instinct’ in the final third.
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