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Casemiro has big role to play for Man Utd in Europa League trip to Barcelona

Casemiro has a big role to play for Manchester United during the first leg of the Europa League knockout play-off against Barcelona on Thursday evening.

The Brazilian has been absent for the past two league matches for United due to a domestic suspension, but he still has another game to serve this month.

However, this will have no impact in Europe and the 30-year-old is expected to start alongside Fred when the Red Devils take on the Blaugrana at Camp Nou.

The availability of Casemiro should be a huge boost for United, given he has rich experience of facing Barcelona from his illustrious career at Real Madrid.

During his time at the Bernabeu, the £44 million-rated star met the Catalan club on 19 occasions, ending up on the winning side nine times with four draws.

Hence, the midfielder has had the better of the Blaugrana on many occasions and in our view, he has a huge role to play in the Europa League showdown.

Casemiro had a slow start to his United career and was restricted to minutes off the bench. Scott McTominay got the regular nod from manager Erik ten Hag.

However, he has made the number six position his own since October last year. He has not been the most fluent with his passing but has made up for it defensively.

The former Porto star has won a stunning 6.5 duels per Premier League game this term. He has also registered 3.3 tackles while making 2.1 clearances on average.

His defensive contributions have stood him out from the rest in midfield and he will have the responsibility of nullifying the threat of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong.

Pedri and De Jong have the knack of providing key passes for Barcelona in the final third and Casemiro has to cut down on the through balls, particularly from the former.

If United manage to win the midfield battle on Thursday, it should boost their chances of ending their four-match losing streak against Barcelona with a positive result.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com and Sofascore.com

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