Barcelona v Manchester United Thursday 16 February 17:45
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Tip: Marcus Rashford to score, Barcelona to win: 10/1, William Hill
The most glamorous Europa League knockout play-off game is undoubtedly the match-up between Barcelona and Manchester United.
In 2008 and 2011, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side, considered by many to be the greatest club side of all time, beat the Red Devils in the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Both clubs have fallen from grace since then. However, this season their domestic form under respective managers Xavi Hernandez and Erik ten Hag suggest that a return to the top echelons of the European game may not be too far away for the two clubs. Barcelona are currently 11 points clear at the top of La Liga, while Manchester United are third in the Premier League, still in the FA Cup, and less that two weeks away from the EFL Cup final.
The sides meet as a result of Barca finishing third in their Champions League group behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, while United finished behind Real Sociedad in their Europa League group.
Barcelona are set to be without their captain Sergio Busquets and winger Ousmane Dembele for at least the first leg.
United have several absentees for the trip to the Nou Camp, through both injury and suspension. Anthony Martial, Antony and Scott McTominay are all set to miss out, as well as long term absentees, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek. Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer are suspended for the first leg.
However, Ten Hag’s side will be boosted of the return of Casemiro, who has been serving a domestic suspension. He and fellow ex-Real Madrid star Raphael Varane will be relishing a chance to lock horns with Barcelona again.
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