Tonight live from the historic Old Trafford stadium, Barça will be facing Man Utd in the second leg of the Europa league Play off round. If the first leg was anything to go by, then goals and entertainment are a guarantee. At the Camp Nou the match ended in a fair 2-2 draw. And although at the end of the game, both teams walked away feeling as if they’d lost. In the end, a draw was the fairest result. Neither team was dominant over the other for the entire game. There were periods of dominance from Barça, and equally so for United. For any neutral fans watching, despite it being in the Europa League, it was a European classic. On our part, coming into the game we are noticeably weakened. Pedri picked up an injury in the first leg last week so is unavailable.
We are of course still without Dembele. And to top it all of, due to an accumulation of cards, we’re going to be without Gavi for tonight too. That means a lot of intensity and energy has been lost, so we’re going to have to figure out an effective way of keeping up our usual levels of intensity. And compete against a strong united team away at Old Trafford. It’s going to be a very difficult game for us. And although the Europa League isn’t a priority of ours this season. Walking away with a positive result is the most important thing tonight. We’re going to give it our all to hopefully make that happen.
A quick look at our opponents:
Since we last played, United were in action against Leicester on the weekend. Winning that game comfortably 3-0 at Old Trafford. Confidence and morale is high for them and they are in imperious form at home. Leicester were unlucky not to go inform in the game, with De Gea bailing them out on many occasions. For the game tonight however, they are going to be specifically strengthened from last week. Lisandro Martinez is back, as well as Sabitser. With Martinez coming back, that probably means that Luke Shaw will return to left back. But apart from that, I think they’ll lineup pretty much the same as at the Camp Nou. We just have to try and match that as best we can with the absentees.
The biggest and most daunting aspect of the game tonight is that one burning question? How will we lineup? I think most of us are still recovering from the surprises in the team last week. With Xavi rotating a few players, and cutting open half of our defence in the process. In fairness, even with the rotations we still managed to compete well against United. And in fact, we were the ones who opened the scoring. However, our left side was severely weakened without Balde and Christensen. And I think all of us thought that if wed started off with our strongest back line, then the result would’ve been very different. Both goals we conceded was down to the weakness on the left side.
Alonso not being quick enough to recover the first one, and then an own goal coming from the left for the second. They were avoidable and it felt like we weakened ourselves, despite having our best options available. Now that we are heading into the game with a weakened midfield, it is vital we play our strongest defence. There’s no excuses. We have to have a strong foundation to rely on. So however we lineup, that must be the priority.
Back to 433?
The formation is also going to be interesting too. For me, without Pedri and Gavi, it’s impossible to play four midfielders. However if we want to replicate Gavi’s inverted winger role with someone else, then Ansu or Ferran would come in. Ansu is the natural fit and it’d be amazing to see him start the game. But Ferran was amazing on the weekend and has earned a starting place for sure. Busquets and Raphinha were both rested against Cadiz so they’ll most probably start the game too. I completely understand why Xavi wants to rotate. But for this game, we have to go strong.
My starting lineup:
Kounde- Araujo- Christensen- Balde
Frenkie- Busquets- Kessie
Raphinha- Lewandowski- Ferran