Spotify Camp Nou is the venue, as Barcelona and Manchester United go head-to-head in a behemoth Europa League knockout play-off tie on Thursday.
The runaway La Liga leaders dropped into Europe’s second-tier competition from the Champions League for the second season running after finishing third in Group C behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Despite suffering back-to-back Champions League group eliminations for the first time in the new millennium, Xavi Hernandez’s men have excelled since, clocking a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions (W15, D1).
In addition to landing the Supercopa de Espana title during that run, Barcelona assembled a substantial 11-point lead on second-placed Real Madrid in La Liga, most recently overcoming Villarreal 1-0 on Sunday.
While the Catalan heavyweights are seemingly waltzing away with the league title in Spain, Man Utd have built a head of steam in the Premier League, consolidating their position in a fierce top-four battle.
Erik ten Hag’s side left it late to beat Leeds United 2-0 at the weekend, moving five points clear in third while making it three straight league matches without losing (W2, D1).
Back to the Europa League after finishing runners-up to Real Sociedad in Group E on a goal difference alone, the Red Devils are looking to advance into the competition’s round of 16 for the third time in five years.
Barring a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern in October, Barcelona have gone unbeaten in their remaining 13 competitive home outings this season (W10, D3), including three consecutive wins ‘to nil.’
Man Utd’s visit to Camp Nou bodes well for Barca’s bid to maintain their home fortress, as they’ve lost just two of their 35 home encounters against English visitors in major UEFA competitions (W22, D11).
However, playing at Camp Nou has not been Barcelona’s safe shelter of late, with Xavi’s men picking up just two wins in their last 11 European home fixtures (D4, L5).
Man Utd’s heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at Premier League Arsenal in late January remains their only loss across 17 competitive games (W14, D2), with ten Hag’s team going unbeaten in six matches since (W5, D1).
They come into this clash on an impressive run of five successive wins in European competitions and could make it six on the trot for the first time since 1965/66.
But that could be easier said than done, given that Man Utd’s last five European campaigns have come to a halt at the hands of Spanish sides, while they’ve lost four European meetings with Barcelona in a row.
Barcelona vs Manchester United Potential Line-ups
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andres Christensen, Jordi Alba; Franck Kessie, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri; Gavi, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford; Wout Weghorst.
How to Watch?
Barcelona vs Man Utd, alongside all other Red Devils’ competitive fixtures this season, is available to watch online via Manchester United live streams.
Barcelona vs Manchester United Prediction
Both sides have been on a tear in 2023 and boast intimidating quality in the front third that could win matches on their own.
Barcelona will rely on Robert Lewandowski, who has tallied a staggering 45 goals in his last 37 appearances in European competitions, but Man Utd can call upon free-scoring forward Marcus Rashford.
The Englishman has hit the ground running since the season resumed after the World Cup, netting 13 goals and delivering four assists since Qatar.
With that in mind, we expect an exciting contest at Camp Nou, with both sides likely to get on the scoresheet multiple times.
Barcelona 2-2 Manchester United
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