Dubai: Manchester United and Barcelona renew hostilities at Old Trafford on Thursday night in the Europa League after the first leg of their knockout playoff clash lived up the pre-match hype.
The Camp Nou tie ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw and now the heavyweights will meet once again to determine who will progress to the last 16.
Make or break
The Red Devils can end the season with a quadruple. They are flying in the Premier League and trail leaders Arsenal by just five points. They are also gearing up for Sunday’s League Cup final against Newcastle and then have an FA Cup fifth-round tie against West Ham. They face a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool in the league after that which means the next two weeks will either be make or break for them.
At Old Trafford, Erik Ten Hag’s side have won 14 out of 15 matches but the Spanish giants are unbeaten in their last 18. Coach Xavi will have a few tricks up his sleeve as he bids to guide his side to the next round and he will be counting on Robert Lewandowski to have his shooting boots on for the mouthwatering clash.
Back from bans
United will welcome back Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer from continental bans while Casemiro will also return after a three-game suspension. Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek are still sidelined while Anthony Martial, Harry Maguire and Antony are doubts.
Barca will be without the suspended Gavi while Pedri will miss out due to an injury he picked up in the first leg. Ousmane Dembele is also out but Ronald Araujo is back from a domestic ban.
United will fancy their chances of progressing what with several stars returning to the fold, but Barca won’t make it plain sailing for the hosts. It wouldn’t be a surprise if penalties are needed to decide a winner.