FC Barcelona and Manchester United gave their fans yet another classic match for the books after the clubs drew 2-2 against each other at Camp Nou on Thursday. Erik Ten Hag and Xavi Hernandez’s sides were both equally adamant about seizing a first-leg advantage in the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League. The exhilarating night ended level in Barcelona after heroics from Marcus Rashford and Raphinha helped their respective sides to stay in the competition.
After an end-to-end, yet goalless first half, Barcelona defender Marcus Alonso gave the Catalans the lead from a corner. Though, Marcus Rashford only took three minutes to equalize after beating Marc Andre Ter Stegen on his near-post. The game was tactically balanced, with the teams having 18 and 17 attempts on goal respectively. FC Barcelona had the greater share of possession but Erik Ten Hag‘s side was a constant threat to the home side on counter-attacks.
Although It wasn’t a Champions League night in Barcelona, the Barcelona home stadium was buzzing with over 90,000 fans present in the stadium. At times, Xavi’s men looked nervous on the ball but were able to squeeze past two goals to remain level with the Red Devils. Raphinha’s whipping ball into the box for Robert Lewandowski found the back of the net without any interference, compensating for Jules Kounde‘s error that led to United’s second goal.
Many fans have started doubting Xavi’s tactics after his team selection ahead of this crucial European fixture. The Spaniard decided to rotate Barcelona’s defensive line. He started Marcus Alonso and Jordi Alba over Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde. The Catalans looked more comfortable while defending since the two in-form defenders came on.
Twitter Reacts to an intense fixture between FC Barcelona and Manchester United
A tough fixture for the young Barca lads awaits at Old Trafford. Xavi’s side would have to be a lot more creative than they were today. Players like Casemiro and Raphael Varane put in stunning defensive performances at Camp Nou. Hence, it would be challenging for the La Liga leaders to maintain their undefeated streak.
FC Barcelona suffered two horrendous knocks in today’s game as Pedri walked off the pitch injured. Gavi also picked up a yellow card, forcing him to miss the second leg against the Premier League side. It will be a major challenge for the Barcelona legend and current coach to save the young squad from Marcus Rashford’s brilliance.
Predicting the second leg between the two giants is one of the most difficult tasks at the moment. Despite FC Barcelona’s consistent form, Manchester United has a better chance of sealing the second leg due to a home advantage. Do you think Xavi can turn the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ into ‘The Theatre of nightmares’, or would it be yet another European horror for the Cules?
Aviral is a Football author at Firstsportz. A content producer with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Media Studies, Aviral completed his graduation from CHRIST Univerity, Bangalore.
Before his time at FirstSportz, Aviral worked as a financial and business writer at Dutch Uncles. Aviral also has a passion for film and audio and visual production.
A To-Be Sports Journalist and football fanatic, Aviral is either busy scrolling through sports reels or probably writing about it. Aviral also likes playing football and has spent half his life on the pitch.
The "chill" football fan who is often frustrated with his love for FC Barcelona, and often overwhelmed by the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi.
The man behind the lens, Aviral also loves telling stories that often go untold through his camera. Keeping sports aside, Aviral has been part of multiple production houses as well.
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