Manchester United will have to beat Barcelona at Old Trafford in seven days’ time so as to guarantee their involvement in the Europa League going forward this season.
The Red Devils played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou, which Erik ten Hag said felt like a cup final.
Barcelona took the lead through former Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso. Marcus Rashford drew United level just minutes later with a brilliant goal that beat Marc-André ter Stegen at his near post.
An own goal by Jules Kounde gave United the lead before a freak goal by Raphinha ensured the spoils were split between the two sides.
Ten Hag was faced with a selection dilemma ahead of the game, with a number of stars ruled out with injuries and suspensions. However, the Dutchman was boosted by the return of Casemiro.
Before the game, Ten Hag remarked that the team plays much better and with more confidence whenever Casemiro is on the pitch.
Ten Hag on Casemiro: “He has a really strong effect on our game. Everyone is more confident when he is on the pitch.” [BT Sport]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) February 16, 2023
The Brazilian was back in action after missing United’s last two Premier League games against Leeds United.
Casemiro, as is often the case, was a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park.
As United’s deepest-lying midfielder, the 30-year-old registered 55 touches of the ball.
Casemiro won all three of his duels in the air – a 100% success rate in his aerial challenges.
Casemiro, against a familiar foe in Barcelona, successfully pinged three long balls to his teammates -a great show of the player’s incredible technical ability and passing range.
The United midfielder won two of his duels on the ground against the Blaugrana’s star-studded midfield.
He also won two tackles and contributed offensively with one key pass.
Casemiro’s game by numbers vs. Barcelona:
3/3 aerial duels won
3 long balls completed
2 ground duels won
2 tackles won
1 key pass
Good to have him back. 💪 pic.twitter.com/nlE4yWBl74
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 16, 2023
Casemiro showed why he has been a big miss for the team and how much his services are needed. In this respect, he proved Ten Hag right.