Manchester United and Barcelona are gearing up for Thursday’s Europa League second leg.
The final will take place at Old Trafford after last week’s first leg in Barcelona.
A pivotal battle between the European giants will determine who advances to the round of 16, as reported by the Spanish media outlet Sport.
United will enter the match as the minor favorites with a home advantage on their side, while Barcelona will be without key players Pedri and Gabi due to injuries and suspensions.
The most obvious threat to United is Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker’s pedigree and his record in European football speaks for itself. Rafael Varane is tasked with keeping this deadly forward quiet.
Varane is likely to have his regular centre-back partner Lisandro Martinez available tomorrow after Luke Shaw has teamed him at the Nou Camp.
Shaw and Varane dealt relatively well with Lewandowski last week, but Rafinha’s cross-cam shot led into David De Gea’s net, crucial in ensuring Barça’s equal move to Manchester. It was the pole’s run across the balun that played a role..
Marcus Rashford, on the other hand, would be seen as the most obvious threat to Xabi and his men. Rashford, who is currently one of Europe’s best-formed players, made an electric display in Spain last week.
We don’t know exactly where Rashford will play tomorrow, but Ronald Araujo is the person most likely to be entrusted with his care.
Rashford’s pace and power have torn apart nearly every team since the World Cup, and if he beats Araujo, United could seize their chance at promotion.
Rafinha played arguably his best in the Barça shirt last week. Luke Shaw, who is expected to return to his original role as a left-back, must be on high alert to stop the tricky Brazilian.
In the middle of the park, Casemiro has been cut for United this season and will likely face Barça legend Sergio Busquets tomorrow.
The pair have an incredible eight Champions League trophies and are looking to control their respective teams’ games tomorrow.
After that, the off-pitch battle begins. Eric Ten Hag’s tactical knowledge of Xavi’s creative management style may prove to have the greatest impact on results.
Both managers are at the beginning of their reigns at both clubs, and tomorrow both bosses represent a great chance to score big early feathers in their respective caps.