Home » Key battles that will decide Manchester United versus Barcelona analysed

Key battles that will decide Manchester United versus Barcelona analysed

by Conner Botterill

Manchester United and Barcelona are preparing for their mouth-watering second leg Europa League contest set to happen on Thursday.

The deciding game will take place at Old Trafford after a helter-skelter first leg in Barcelona last week.

As reported in Spanish media outlet sport, key battles between the European giants will determine who progresses to the Round-of-16.

United will go into the game as slight favourites with home advantage on their side along with the fact that Barcelona will be missing key players Pedri and Gavi, due to injury and suspension, respectively.

The most obvious threat to United lies with Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker’s pedigree and record in European football speaks for itself and Raphael Varane will be tasked with keeping the deadly forward quiet.

Varane, is likely to have his regular centre-back partner Lisandro Martinez back available tomorrow after Luke Shaw partnered him in the Nou Camp.

Shaw and Varane dealt with Lewandowski relatively well for the most part last week but it was the Pole’s run across Varane that played a key part in Raphinha’s cross-cum-shot finding its way into David de Gea’s net to ensure Barca travel to Manchester with parity.

On the other hand, Marcus Rashford will be seen as the most obvious threat to Xavi and his men. Rashford is one of the most in-form players in Europe right now and produced an electric display in Spain last week.

Whilst it’s unclear exactly where Rashford will play tomorrow, Ronald Araújo is the man most likely to be tasked with looking after him.

Rashford’s pace and power has ripped through almost every team since the World Cup and if he gets the better of Araújo, United will fancy their chances of progression.

Raphinha produced arguably his best display in a Barca shirt last week and Luke Shaw, who is expected to revert back to his natural role of left-back, will have to be on high alert to stop the tricky Brazilian.

In the middle of the park, Casemiro has been a cut above for United this season and is likely to come up against Barca legend Sergio Busquets tomorrow.

The pair have an incredible eight Champions League trophies between them and will both be looking to control the game for their respective sides tomorrow.

Then comes the battle off the pitch; the tactical nous of Erik ten Hag against the creative management style of Xavi may prove to have the biggest influence on the outcome.

Both managers are at the start of their reigns at the two clubs and tomorrow represents a huge chance for either boss to earn a big early feather in their respective caps.

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