Manchester United Frustrate Barcelona But Face Another Mountain to Climb
There was a great deal of anticipation surrounding Barcelona‘s first encounter against Manchester United since the 2011 Champions League final. The Spanish champions were nowhere near their best, yet emerged victorious at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils had hitherto lost a home tie against Barcelona in a European competition. They failed to register a shot on target, however, and will need to find their cutting edge at Camp Nou if they are to progress to the Champions League semi-finals.
Manchester United Frustrate Barcelona But Face Another Mountain To Climb
A Damp Squib
Manchester United fans will have feared the worst when Luke Shaw inadvertently deflected a Luis Suarez header past David de Gea 12 minutes into proceedings.
Barcelona entered the game on the back of an unbeaten run that stretches back to January in all competitions. After a potentially title-determining victory against Atletico Madrid last Saturday, the ‘Blaugrana’ didn’t ooze with the confidence that many expected.
Overall, the tie was a bit of a damp squib. Lionel Messi was instrumental in Barcelona‘s opener but was uncharacteristically quiet for the remainder of the game. Both sides were tentative and cancelled each other out for the majority of the game. Consequently, it lacked the pulsating edge that many had hoped for.
Barcelona‘s game management was impressive, though it lacked their famous flair and virtuosity. When on home soil, perhaps, they will have the confidence to be more experimental.
Down But Not Out
There was an enormous sense of trepidation radiating from Manchester United fans in the build-up to this clash, despite overcoming several hurdles throughout the competition.
Though they lost the tie, it was not the nightmarish reality that was widely forecasted. Many questioned Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s team selection, though it paid dividends and subdued the Catalonian giants.
Scott McTominay was arguably the man of the match and did not put a foot wrong in midfield. Despite being inexperienced on the European stage, he played beyond his years and seemed unfazed by the occasion.
‘Mountains are there to be climbed’, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer declared after losing 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain. Now, his side face an arguably steeper uphill battle at Camp Nou next week.
To write off Manchester United’s chances in the second leg, however, would be ill-advised considering their dramatic show at Parc des Princes. Though the deficit is not as great, reversing any deficit at Camp Nou tends to be a step too far for any side.
Since their remarkable victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, Solksjaer’s men have now suffered four losses from five games. This may signify that the Norwegian’s Midas touch is fading, but there is life in them yet.