The first Champions League quarterfinals meeting between Manchester United and Barcelona is in the books. After a lengthy hard-fought performance by both sides, Barcelona takes a 1-0 win. As a result, Barcelona has a slight advantage heading into the second meeting on Tuesday which is in Barcelona.
Barcelona stands with a 2-0 aggregate lead via the away goals rule. In M. United’s case, they were in a similar situation in the Round of 16 after their first match at home against Paris Saint-Germain. Consequently, Barcelona can’t afford to allow M. United’s luck to repeat itself.
Solid defending by Manchester
M. United’s defense knew that going against Barcelona’s brilliant attack would be difficult. Despite Barcelona’s attack maintaining 67 percent ball possession, a 90 percent pass accuracy, and completing over 800 passes, M. United’s defense managed to contain it. Despite the strong lack of support from M. United’s offensive attack, the defense kept it together.
Barcelona’s attack trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Philippe Coutinho all failed to score. The game-winning goal was originally courtesy of a header by Suarez, however, the VAR showed the ball bouncing off defender Luke Shaw, thus ruling it as an own goal.
Limiting Barcelona to only six shot attempts shows the resilience of M. United’s defense. Considering Barcelona came into this game averaging close to 19 attempts per game and 61 attempts on-target. Furthermore, both of those totals rank Barcelona second in this year’s tournament.
M. United deserves credit for shutting down the potent attack. Despite knowing the odds were against them, M. United’s defense decided to test Barcelona’s ruthless and brilliant attack
It wasn’t a Messi game
As the Champions League’s top scorer, expectations were high for Messi. Coming into this game having scored ten goals in his last six games, Messi was eager to stay on a hot streak.
For the most part, Messi was quiet in this game. Despite failing to score, Messi did help his squad create penetration to help set up scoring attempts, as well as putting a remarkable pass accuracy.
Messi connected with Coutinho and Suarez in attack routes. However, their strategy constantly went awry. M. United goalkeeper David De Gea managed to deny Messi when he attempted a low free-kick. Messi just could not score.
Squaring off against a defense with nothing to lose, Messi was overwhelmed by a defense willing to do whatever it takes to prevent him from inflicting serious damage. M. United’s defense literally left Messi battered, bruised, and bloody.
M. United has lost three straight Champions League knockout games at home for the first time ever. And for the first time since 2005, they failed to make a single shot on target in a Champions League game.
Suarez has gone over 1,000 days without scoring an away goal in Champions League play. Consequently, his last Champions League away goal was in 2015. This season, Marouane Fellaini is the only M. United player to score a goal at home in the Champions League play this season.
Barcelona is on the verge of claiming the La Liga title. M. United is fighting to secure a top-five finish in the Premier League in order to qualify for the Champions League next season. At this point, M. United has nothing to lose and Barcelona is looking to increase its momentum.