Only two teams, Alaves and Real Betis, have beaten Barcelona at the Nou Camp in either La Liga or the Champions League since April 2016. That’s two defeats in 70 home matches.
In the Champions League, the Catalans are unbeaten at home in their last 30 matches, winning 27 of them. They have also not conceded more than once in any of those 30 games, going all the way back to a semi-final against Bayern Munich in 2013.
That gives you a measure of the challenge that faces Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United side on Tuesday night.
After Barcelona’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford last week, United must find a way to win in 90 minutes against Ernesto Valverde’s men to have any chance of progressing to the final four of this season’s competition.
The Reds won’t be short of inspiration at least, after all, few gave them hope of victory at Le Parc Des Princes against Paris-Saint Germain in the last round but the impossible was achieved. The task this time around though, while facing a marginally more favourable scoreline, looks even more daunting.
Barcelona have won 14 of their 24 two-legged ties against English clubs in Europe, including seven of their last eight. They have also won each of their last five home games and kept three clean sheets in the process.
Manchester United’s away form of late offers little by way of encouragement ahead of this tie with defeats in each of their last three on the road. The honeymoon period under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer which saw 10 wins and one draw from his opening 11 matches in charge has shown worrying signs of fizzling out of late. In the 12 matches in all competitions that have followed that impressive initial run, United have lost six.
Barcelona have never lost a home match against United in Europe (W2, D2) but the Nou Camp does of course hold particularly fond memories for the men from Manchester, and Solskjaer in particular. It was the Norwegian’s injury-time winner against Bayern Munich in 1999 in the very same stadium which completed one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history and saw the Reds lift the trophy.
It’s a moment that Solskjaer has replayed many times since as he bids to follow that with another historic achievement, this time as manager:
“Funnily enough, I have never seen the full game. I did watch the 15 minutes that I actually played once. Of course, the goal I have probably seen a million times. I don’t mind being remembered for something like that.”
The stats are against United though. Of the 70 previous occasions a side has won a Champions League knockout tie first leg away from home, just four have been eliminated. But one of those sides was of course PSG in the last round.
It will call for something equally special from Manchester United if they are to take their place in the semi-finals but with Barcelona holding all the aces, this could be where the dream ends for the Premier League side.
Barcelona vs Man Utd team news
Nine points clear at the top of La Liga, Ernesto Valverde had the luxury of resting a host of players at the weekend when Barcelona took on Heusca. The likes of Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez all played no part, while Jordi Alba and Philippe Coutinho were only introduced as second half substitutes. As a result, many of Barcelona’s key men will enter this match still fresh from last week’s first leg.
All the aforementioned stars will be expected to return to the starting lineup for this match with Kevin Prince Boateng and Malcom amongst those who will drop out.The good news for Manchester United on the team news front comes with confirmation that both Nemanja Matic and Alexis Sanchez have travelled with the squad to Spain. Matic has missed the last three games through injury whilst Sanchez has been out for six weeks with a knee problem.
Matteo Darmian is also in the squad but Solskjaer will once again have to make do without Ander Herrera and Eric Baily.
Barcelona vs Man Utd form (most recent result last)
Manchester United: LLWLLW