The Keys to FC Barcelona vs Manchester United

The Keys to FC Barcelona vs Manchester United

Everything you need to know before the match that could put Barça into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League

All is set for another magical night at Camp Nou. After winning at the Theater of Dreams (0-1) last Wednesday, and adding another point at El Alcoraz (0-0) in the race for the club’s 26th La Liga title, the Champions League returns to the forefront on Tuesday, April 16 at 9:00pm CET.

It should be noted that Barça are alive and well in all competitions — a step away from the last four in the Champions League, finalists in the Copa del Rey, and with a firm lead in La Liga. Barça are also undefeated since November (3-4 against Betis at Camp Nou).

Here are six keys to Tuesday’s match against Manchester United:

Optimism

The 1-0 win in the first leg at Old Trafford seems to have left the team on very solid footing, Since historically they have gone through eight of the nine times they earned the same result on the road in the first leg and European competition. Additionally, and four matches against Manchester United at Camp Nou, FC Barcelona have two wins and two draws.

If the Catalans make it through to the semifinals, they will face either Porto or Liverpool. Liverpool beat Porto 2-0 in the first leg at Anfield.

Manchester United must score

Thanks to a an own-goal by Shaw in the first leg, the English side will arrive at the Camp Nou with the need to score at least one goal, or face certain doom.  This could leave more space for Barça to operate, thus favoring the Catalans, especially on attack.

But Barça must remain cautious, since United have beaten Juventus and PSG in European competition this season, with deadly strikes in second half injury time.

Valverde’s strategy

The Barça manager rested several key players against Huesca (0-0), giving debuts to a selection of youngsters like Riqui Puig, Wague, and Todibo.  Now, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Piqué, Sergio and Rakitic well-rested, Barça appear to be in good physical shape for the clash with United.

United’s current state

Solskjaer’s men arrive at Camp Nou after adding three more points in the Premier League.  Prior to the first leg, the 'Red Devils' won 2-1 against West Ham with two penalty kick goals from Paul Pogba.  United are currently fifth in the Premier with 64 points, just two points from a spot in the Champions League next season.

For the Red Devils, Shaw is suspended for the return leg, while Valencia, Darmian, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sánchez and Eric Bailly could be summoned to action.

The return of Ousmane Dembélé

In spite of receiving the medical all-clear on Tuesday, April 9, prior to the first leg, the Frenchman side did not see playing time.  He did play 60 minutes against Huesca in El Alcoraz, and could be one of the decisive factors in Tuesday’s elimination match against United.  His speed on the wing might be one of Barça’s keys to cracking the semifinals.

The Camp Nou Factor

The Camp Nou has seen plenty of Champions League magic, and is ready for another special night.  The Barça fans will undoubtedly play a role in the outcome of this European saga between FC Barcelona and Manchester United.

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