Barcelona and Manchester United played a classic 2-2 thriller at Spotify Camp Nou in the first leg of the Europa League play-off this evening.
It was a breathless game where both teams were thinking to attack whenever they had the ball.
Xavi and Erik ten Hag surprised everyone with how they set up their teams.
Ronald Araujo was deployed as a right-back while Jules Kounde played at the heart of Barca’s defence.
Wout Weghorst started as a number 10 for United with Marcus Rashford leading the line and Bruno Fernandes playing on the right flank.
Marcos Alonso broke the deadlock via a corner, but Barcelona’s lead didn’t last long as Rashford netted the equaliser within a couple of minutes.
Soon after, Rashford played a teasing ball towards a crowded Barcelona box. The ball found its way into the net after bouncing off Kounde.
Raphinha was the most threatening player for the hosts, and he brought the score to parity in the 76th minute.
His cross turned into a shot when it was missed by everyone in the six-yard box. Here is what we made of this explosive game.
Manchester United failed to take their chances
The Red Devils were the better side in the first half and should have been ahead.
They had a couple of great chances to score, but Marc-André ter Stegen shielded his post well. The best opportunity fell to Weghorst but the loanee botched his one-on-one.
A few minutes later, Rashford drew a world-class save from the German international. The 25-year-old tried to find the far post, but his effort was equalled by Ter Stegen’s acrobatic stop.
Hopefully, they won’t be rueing these missed chances at Old Trafford next week.
Marcus Rashford is on the cusp of breaking a personal milestone
Barcelona looked vulnerable in defence every time United attacked with intent. Rashford inspired the Red Devils, playing a central role in both United’s goals.
Fred played a deft pass for Rashford, and he had the composure and accuracy to slip the ball past Ter Stegen who looked unbeatable until then.
With Xavi setting a high defensive line, the Englishman found acres of space to run into and caused problems throughout the 90 minutes.
The goalscorer turned into the creator when he skipped past Raphinha to dart down the byline in fashion. His drilled cross was turned into the net, handing United the lead.
He has now scored 22 goals this season, equalling his best-ever tally (2019/20) – and we are still in February.
We can’t wait for the clash at the Theatre of Dreams!
Barcelona and Man United played out a nail-biter worthy of a Champions League tag. It was a pulsating draw, and we can’t wait for the second leg to kick off.
No matter which team you supported, entertainment was present in abundance.
It is evident that both clubs have bigger ambitions than to compete in the Europa League but they served up a classic.
The tie is perfectly set up for next week when Man United host the Spanish giants at Old Trafford.
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