‘We have a winning mentality now’ – Varane on United’s improvement under Ten Hag
The tie is brilliantly poised after a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp last week. Marcus Rashford’s second-half goal quickly cancelled out Marcos Alonso’s opener for Barca, before United took the lead through a Jules Kounde own goal. But there was a further twist as Raphinha’s late equaliser gave Xavi’s team hope ahead of tonight’s reunion.
Barcelona will be without talented midfielders Pedri and Gavi following the first leg, while Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer are available having been suspended for the match in Spain.
But the heavyweight tie, which has the feel of a classic Champions League contest, is a huge moment in United’s season and should lead to a memorable night at Old Trafford ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Newcastle.
Follow all the action as Manchester United take on Barcelona in the Europa League play-offs:
Man Utd vs Barcelona
Barcelona have faced Manchester United away from home in European competition on five previous occasions.
After failing to win any of the first four (D2 L2), they won 1-0 on their most recent such trip in April 2019 in a Champions League quarter-final first leg match.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 19:20
Xavi on facing Manchester United
Xavi spoke about what he is expecting from tonight’s game claimed that Manchester United are one of the best teams in Europe at present.
“It’s a really tough game, Manchester United are one of the best teams in Europe and they are showing it.” said the Barcelona boss, “It’s the best Manchester United over the last few years and a great bit of work that Erik ten Hag has done.
“At the Nou Camp they showed a great passion and we have to match that. It’s a tough stadium to go to and we have to show the personality, play the way we can and be very intense during the game.
“The mentality is what we need to play a game like this. Manchester United are still up there with Manchester City and Arsenal [in the Premier League] so it’s a perfect stage to show Barcelona can compete with these teams.”
Michael Jones23 February 2023 19:15
Man Utd ready to take ‘next step’, says Raphael Varane
The 2018 World Cup winner joined the Old Trafford giants in the summer of 2021 alongside Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the campaign that followed was one to forget for all connected to the club.
United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and floundered under caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick as they stumbled home sixth in the Premier League – a wretched situation that Ten Hag has rapidly turned around.
The former Ajax boss has improved the culture and quality at Old Trafford, meaning the club are still fighting on all four fronts as they prepare to host Barca in the Europa League knockout play-off on Thursday.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 19:10
Barca arrive at Old Trafford
Barcelona have arrived at Old Trafford and are preparing for tonight’s clash. The players will be heading onto the pitch for the warm-ups shortly.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 19:05
When Erik met Fergie
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag shared dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson this week as he looks to emulate the Scot in bringing European success to the club. He described the meeting as “massive”.
“I always enjoy speaking with people who have a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience. He wants to share it; he wants to help and support,” Ten Hag said.
“You feel Manchester United is his club. He feels so committed and he wants that we are doing well. It was a great night and I look forward to the next night with him.”
Michael Jones23 February 2023 19:00
Jules Kounde insists he is not ‘lucky’ to be facing Manchester United in second leg
Last week’s meeting of these European heavyweights outside the flagship competition lived up to the billing, with a chaotic clash in Catalunya ending in a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp.
It was an impressive performance but Ten Hag was annoyed about his side’s inability to turn dominance into a win and the officials’ inaction for a poor challenge on star man Marcus Rashford.
Shortly after scoring an own goal to put the Red Devils 2-1 up, Kounde escaped a red card for a challenge on Rashford – something the Dutchman said was “definitely” a second off.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 18:55
Man Utd vs Barcelona team changes
Erik ten Hag makes just one change to the Manchester United team that drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp. Tyrell Malacia drops out with Lisandro Martinez coming in. Luke Shaw moves out to the left-back position having played as a centre-back in Spain.
Barcelona boss, Xavi, makes four changes. In the back line Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde come in to replace Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba.
Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto replace Pedri and Gavi in midfield.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 18:53
Barcelona starting XI
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde, De Jong, Kessie, Busquets, Roberto, Raphinha, Lewandowski
Michael Jones23 February 2023 18:49
Manchester United line-up
Man Utd XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Fred, Casemiro, Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford, Weghorst
Michael Jones23 February 2023 18:46
How the teams reached this stage
Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League group stage for the second consecutive season after finishing third in Group C behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan while Manchester United finished second in their Europa League group on goal difference behind Real Sociedad.
Those performances has provided this extra play-off tie for the teams to navigate, things are balanced at 2-2 but only one of the sides will be progressing into the round of 16.
Michael Jones23 February 2023 18:44