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Barcelona vs Manchester United – Preview, Stats & Tips 16/02/2023

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UEFA Europa League: Thursday, 5:45pm

The Europa League knockout stage gets underway this Thursday with a fixture that wouldn’t look out of place in a Champions League final.

FC Barcelona and Manchester United are among the two biggest clubs in world football having amassed a combined 46 league titles and eight European Cups.

Despite their immense history, the two clubs have been somewhat underwhelming in European competitions this season.

Barca, for instance, finished third in their Champions League group after winning two of their six games – both against minnows Viktoria Plzen.

United, on the other hand, won five of their six Europa League group matches but missed out on top spot to Real Sociedad.

Two of those wins came in rather dramatic circumstances as the Red Devils produced late goals to beat Nicosia Omonia both home and away.  

Fortunately, both Barcelona and Manchester United have found some serious form since those group stage outings earlier in the season.

The Spanish giants have won 11 matches in a row and are yet to be stopped since the turn of the year.

Xavi Hernandez has taken his side to the top of La Liga, with the team currently boasting an 11-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid.

What’s more, Barca have conceded one goal in seven games across all competitions and boast one of the best defensive records in European football.

Manchester United have also got a lot to shout about. Since returning from the World Cup break, the Red Devils have won 12 of their 15 games across all competitions – losing just once against Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Erik ten Hag’s men are scoring goals for fun and have bagged 15 in their last six outings alone.

In-form striker Marcus Rashford has been particularly deadly, scoring four goals in his last four Premier League games – a run which has helped United climb up to third in the standings.

With both teams seemingly firing on all cylinders, Thursday’s blockbuster encounter should live up to the billing.

With that in mind, our recommendation is to back over 2.5 goals and both teams to score.

United will be keen to get on the scoresheet before the return leg at Old Trafford, while Barca will be similarly desperate to arrive in Manchester with a first-leg lead.

The good news for the Spaniards is the fact they have won all of their previous four encounters with Manchester United. What’s more, they’ve only suffered one defeat in 10 meetings since 1994.

With a record like that, expect Barcelona to be a popular choice in the outright market ahead of the opening leg.

Key stats 

  • Barcelona have won 11 matches in a row (all competitions)
  • Barcelona have conceded one goal in seven games
  • Man United have won 12 of their last 15 games (all comps)
  • Arsenal are the only team to beat Man United in 2023
  • Man United have scored 15 goals in six games
  • Marcus Rashford has scored in four straight Premier League games

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