Despite the availability of Casemiro, Manchester United are not likely to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou this evening, according to Opta Analyst.
The outlet uses a computer algorithm to predict the outcome of matches.
“The supercomputer can’t see beyond Barcelona at home this time around … and gives them a whopping 54.1% chance of victory against Ten Hag’s side,” the outlet says.
“An away victory is given a 23.4% chance of happening, while the draw is at 22.5%.”
With United missing Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer due to suspension and Christian Eriksen, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial and Antony due to injury, they are certainly up against it.
Howver, the hosts are not without injury problems themselves and will have to cope without Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembélé.
The two teams are also similar in terms of form, with United having soared to within five points of the top of the Premier League and Barça eight points clear of Real Madrid in La Liga. They have won eight on the bounce and haven’t lost since their 3-0 home drubbing by Bayern Munich in October that sent them crashing out of the Champions League.
However, Opta Analyst notes that “There is an asterisk attached to Barcelona’s recent form, rightly or wrongly … there is an underwhelming feeling to their recent run of success.
“Xavi Hernandez has proven less idealistic than he intoned prior to taking the role but nobody can doubt that he has been getting results.
“While Barcelona’s defense has been airtight in recent months, their most potent attacker has suffered mediocre form in recent weeks.
“Robert Lewandowski was downright poor against Villarreal on Sunday and had been suspended since a red card against Osasuna prior to that. He has scored one goal in six games in LaLiga.”
Stopping Lewandowski will nonetheless be a big priority for United and his record in Europe speaks for itself.
Barcelona, for their own part, have reportedly earmarked the gifted defender Ronaldo Araujo to nullify the threat of Marcus Rashford.
With away goals no longer a consideration in Uefa competition, United will simply be hoping to get a result of any kind this evening to bring the Catalans back to the fierce cauldron of Old Trafford for the second leg.
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