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Manchester United vs Barcelona Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups

Manchester United and Barcelona are set to trade tackles in the second leg of their evenly-contested Europa League knockout play-off tie on Thursday night. 

Despite falling behind early in the second half at the Spotify Camp Nou, Erik ten Hag’s side fought back to hold Barca to an enthralling 2-2 draw last week.

Xavi Hernandez’s rock-solid backline flopped against free-scoring Marcus Rashford, who, after beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen at the near post, maintained his superb form at the weekend. 

The England international racked up a brace to inspire the Red Devils to a thumping 3-0 Premier League home win over Leicester City, taking his post-World Cup tally to a whopping 16 goals. 

Led by the most prolific player in Europe’s top-five leagues since club football resumed after a mid-season break, United will now be looking to finish what they started in Spain last time out.

Barcelona’s visit to Old Trafford on Thursday will be United’s final rehearsal in the lead-up to their Carabao Cup showpiece against Newcastle United next weekend. 

Overcoming runaway La Liga leaders would be a perfect way for ten Hag’s side to kickstart a season-defining week, especially given the visitors’ outrageous form in 2023.

In addition to toppling arch-rivals Real Madrid in January’s Supercopa de Espana title decider in Saudi Arabia, the Catalan heavyweights boast a substantial eight-point lead at the top of the La Liga standings.

Xavi’s side solidified their pursuit of a first league title since 2018/19 with a routine 2-0 home victory over perennial relegation fighters Cadiz at the weekend, setting themselves up nicely for this road trip.

Match Preview

Manchester United

United couldn’t have asked for a better place to take on high-flying Barcelona than Old Trafford, where they’ve won 15 of their last 17 competitive outings (D2) since a 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad in the Europa League group stages.

That defeat remains one of United’s two losses across their last 11 home matches in the Europa League (W6, D3), although it’s worth noting both have come at the hands of Spanish sides without scoring.

Unfortunately for ten Hag, there’s another reason for concern, with United going winless in ten of their last 11 meetings with Barcelona in major European competitions (D5, L5).


Barcelona will be confident about rendering last week’s draw meaningless after recording four victories in their last five encounters against the Red Devils (D1). 

But to do that, the Blaugrana will have to defy their underwhelming European record at Old Trafford, having won just one of their five previous visits to this venue (D2, L2).

An incredible 18-game unbeaten streak in all competitions comes in handy (W16, D2), though Barca’s underwhelming record of three wins across their last nine UEFA road trips (D2, L4) doesn’t make it a good reading for the visitors. 

Manchester United vs Barcelona Potential Line-ups

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw; Casemiro, Fred; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Wout Weghorst. 

Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andres Christensen, Jordi Alba; Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong; Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres. 

How to Watch?

Man United vs Barcelona, alongside all other Red Devils’ competitive fixtures this season, is available to watch online via Manchester United live streams

Manchester United vs Barcelona Prediction 

With all due respect to Barcelona’s phenomenal domestic campaign and their noticeable defensive improvement under Xavi, we expect Man Utd to progress into the next round.

Ten Hag’s side have been too hot to handle at Old Trafford this term. With Rashford & co firing on all cylinders, we can envisage the Red Devils winning.

But there’s no doubt this one will go down to the wire. 

Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona

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