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  United Set to Renew Rivalry with Barcelona

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As far as European rivalries go, United and Barcelona have had an interesting one down the years, one where the bragging rights have been shared fairly evenly. 11 clashes across the Cup Winners’ Cup and Champions League has yielded three wins for United, four for Barcelona and four draws. A record which Ole Solskjaer will hope to tilt back in United’s favour after being drawn against the Catalan giants in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this year.

Indeed, every clash between United and Barcelona has been ‘significant’ in the competition, with at least one of the sides making the final in every year they have met, which obviously includes the 2010 and 2011 finals. Only in 1994 did a clash between Barcelona and United not produce the eventual winner of the competition. Moreover, it’s 20 years since Clive Tyldesley uttered the famous line, “Full steam ahead Barcelona”. There’s plenty for fans and pundits to draw a narrative here.

United’s Champions League odds rise after draw

Of course, there’s another way to look at it – this is the worst of all draws for Manchester United, who must look enviously at Liverpool’s trip to Porto and Juventus’ fixtures against Ajax. After the draw, United’s odds dropped to 20/1 with Bet365, making them 5th favourites for the competition. You can get free bets no deposit for the Champions League, so you can have a punt on the Red Devils without any risk to your wallet. Man City, who have been drawn against Tottenham, are given odds of 2/1, whereas Barcelona and Liverpool are given odds of 10/3 and 4/1 respectively. Spurs’ odds are just behind United’s at 25/1, with Ajax (40/1) and Porto (100/1) rounding out the candidates.

Thus, it seems United are in what punters would call “dark horse territory”. However, this is not the Barcelona that outclassed Manchester United in 2010 and 2011. Teams like Leganes, Girona and Real Betis have managed to upset Barcelona this season, with the latter two even coming away from Camp Nou with something to show for it. While they are top of the league by a considerable distance, the quality and depth of talent in La Liga is not what it once was. Getafe and Alaves are fighting it out for a Champions League spot – two teams who would undoubtedly struggle in the Premier League.

Barcelona have their groove back again
In saying that, it’s clear that Barcelona have been much better in 2019. They are, in fact, in line for a treble of La Liga, Champions League and Copa Del Rey titles. Betway have priced United’s progress to the next round at 16/5, which really serves to underline Barcelona’s status as favourites. Yet, PSG offered a similar challenge in the last round, and United were able to come away with victory and a renewed sense of confidence.

Barcelona will still have some of the key personnel from the 2011 Champions League Final on the pitch – Pique, Busquets and Messi. United, meanwhile, look completely different. Antonio Valencia started in right midfield for that match, whereas Chris Smalling was an unused substitute in the Final. Stopping Messi will be key, of course, but that is obviously hard to do, and the Argentine maestro is far from Barcelona’s only threat

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It would be nice to talk about recalling the spirit of 1999 for this game, but it’s perhaps enough to simply recall the spirit of a few weeks ago in Paris. If United can do that, then a possible semi-final against Liverpool awaits.

 
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