Last week’s enthralling tussle between Barcelona and Manchester United had people on the edge of their seats and the continental heavyweights will emerge for round two at Old Trafford this evening in what promises to be an equally-gripping showdown.
Man Utd and Barca went toe-to-toe at Camp Nou a week ago, trading blows in a 2-2 draw that put the outcome of the tie on a knife edge. With a place in the Europa League’s Round of 16 up for grabs, both predatory outfits are certain to go for the jugular again at the Theatre of Dreams.
Below, I’ve assembled a stats pack for this evening’s showpiece fixture in Manchester which contains a catalogue of info to use in bet builders for the game. If you need a walkthrough on how to get the most out of the data, take a quick glance at my Stats Pack Guide.
Erik ten Hag is still sweating over the fitness of Anthony Martial, Antony and Harry Maguire, while Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek remain long-term absentees for United. Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer are free to feature having missed last week’s first leg through suspension.
Raphael Varane should return to the XI having been rested for Sunday’s win over Leicester, while Jadon Sancho’s impact off the bench against the Foxes might have earned him a starting berth ahead of Alejandro Garnacho.
Barcelona lost Gavi to suspension and Pedri to injury in last week’s incident-packed first leg, though Sergio Busquets made a timely return to the matchday squad at the weekend and the veteran midfielder should start this evening.
Ansu Fati seemed likeliest to replace Gavi on the left flank but Sergi Roberto features, while Jules Kounde and Ronaldo Araujo could swap roles in Barca’s back four. Alejandro Balde makes the starting squad at left back over Jordi Alba.
Man Utd carried plenty of threat at Camp Nou last week, improving upon their domestic numbers to rack up 18 attempts against Barcelona, eight of which hit the target. United did allow Barca to muster 18 shots of their own last Thursday, however, and 50% of those efforts found their mark.
The Red Devils collected four cards in Catalonia seven days ago, which isn’t an overly surprising haul given their aggressive 2.29 cards per 90 tally in the Premier League. United also conceded eight corners against Los Cules and won just five themselves.
Barcelona are cantering over the horizon in La Liga where they have a large eight-point lead over Real Madrid, and their underlying stats for the campaign in Spain are as impressive as you’d expect from any runaway leaders.
Barca’s defensive metrics have been particularly eye-catching domestically, though they were opened up time and time again by an adventurous Man Utd side at Camp Nou. Xavi’s side finished the 2-2 draw with an xG of 1.2 compared to United’s 2.1. Barcelona collected half as many cards as United last week, and the Red Devils might be worth backing at 7/5 to pick up more again today.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Marcus Rashford dazzled on the big stage at Camp Nou last week, where he racked up five attempts, three of which hit the target against Barcelona. The red-hot 25-year-old has lodged at least two accurate attempts in ten of his last 16 appearances for United in all competitions, and Rashford is available at 11/10 to hit two more this evening.
Brazilian anchorman Casemiro was a threat, particularly from set plays, last Thursday and the 30-year-old registered three attempts plus one on target during an impactful display against Barca. At 15/8 to get just one shot on target later on, Casemiro represents excellent value.
Iconic Polish striker Robert Lewandowski has been a prolific performer for both shots and shots on target in La Liga this term, though the veteran frontman was restricted to just two attempts in last week’s first leg, one of which tested David de Gea.
That’s not to say the 34-year-old should be discounted this evening, indeed, Lewandowski looks like an excellent coupon padder at 3/10 to find his range with one strike at Old Trafford. Elsewhere, with three accurate attempts and six shots on goal overall, winger Raphinha seemed to find plenty of space against United seven days ago and the ex-Leeds star is an interesting candidate at 4/6 to hit 1+ shots on target again in the second leg.
Player Goals and Assists
When fishing for match-winners for United this evening, there is no need to get overly creative and Marcus Rashford is superb value at 10/11 to either score or assist this evening. The 25-year-old scored United’s equalizer last week and has a haul of 20 goal contributions in his last 17 appearances overall.
Bruno Fernandes meanwhile, was unlucky not to grab an assist when he put Wout Weghorst clean through at Camp Nou, though the Portuguese playmaker did create two of United’s three goals against Leicester on Sunday, and the 28-year-old can be backed at 2/1 to lay on another goal today.
Last week, Barcelona scored their goals from a set-piece header and a cross that found its way into the corner, and Brazilian winger Raphinha was the architect on each occasion. The 26-year-old is 8/5 to either manufacture or score a goal himself at Old Trafford later on.
On the opposite flank, Ansu Fati, who racked up three attempts in 23 second-half minutes as a substitute last week, could be an option to weigh up in the same market at 13/10. Barca threatened plenty down both wings last Thursday and Fati should get a run at Old Trafford in place of the suspended Gavi.
United posted a modest 39.1% possession figure at Camp Nou in the first leg and while they will expect to control the ball for a little longer this evening, an even split of it might be the best they can hope for.
That means we have to aim pretty low for individual passing targets, though Lisandro Martinez at 4/5 to play 70+ passes looks like a palatable pick. Luke Shaw at 10/11 in the same market catches the eye, though it’s worth noting that no United player played north of 41 passes in last week’s opening leg.
Barca held over two third of the possession at Camp Nou last week (60.9%), however, their figures in the individual passes department didn’t sizzle, with Jules Kounde (57) leading the way ahead of Marcos Alonso (47).
Midfield metronome Frenkie de Jong is as short as 1/14 to play 50+ passes this evening, though he managed just 45 a week ago, while the returning Sergio Busquets, who has played just 57.9 passes per game in La Liga this season is 1/10 in the same market.
Both players are better-looking in terms of price at 4/5 and evens in the 70+ passes stakes, but we can’t expect either to reach that target with confidence.
Manchester United Cards
Casemiro picked up his seventh caution of the campaign in all competitions when he was carded at Camp Nou last week, and the tough-tackling Brazilian is 6/4 to see yellow again in the second leg.
Fred somehow avoided a booking despite committing a game-high six fouls in Catalonia. The buzzing midfielder is cracking value at 4/6 to commit two more today.
Luke Shaw meanwhile, could be thrust back into a more familiar position at left-back later on, having played more centrally a week ago. Tyrell Malacia was carded and gave away three free kicks while deployed at full-back last week, and Shaw’s numbers could be similar in that role later on.
Sergio Busquets was embroiled in plenty of skirmishes with Casemiro in El Classico fixtures when they latter played for Real Madrid, and the battle-hardened Barca stalwart will expect more of the same in midfield at Old Trafford.
Fred’s tussles with Franck Kessie (fouled 1.89 times per 90) could also yield bruising results, while inventive winger Raphinha (1.88) has a skillset sharp enough to draw mistimed challenges from Luke Shaw on the flank.
Match-Ups to watch
Casemiro vs Sergio Busquets
Fred vs Franck Kessie
Luke Shaw vs Raphinha
Sergio Busquets’s midfield quarrels with Casemiro this evening have the potential to produce cards and fouls in both directions and there are avenues open in numerous markets, including 1/4 for Busquets to commit one foul, 13/10 for two and 7/4 for the 34-year-old to enter the referee’s notebook.
Jordi Alba was one of two Barcelona players cautioned last week and the 33-year-old should be under pressure for spells at Old Trafford later on. Alba can be picked up at 4/9 to commit just one foul later on.
Jules Kounde meanwhile, was perhaps a little fortunate to avoid a red card a week ago when he appeared to haul Marcus Rashford down in the second half. The French defender could be marking the same man today and Kounde is 1/3 to commit at least one foul and 12/5 to collect a caution at the Theatre of Dreams.
Midfield brawler Casemiro has been United’s most-fouled Premier League player in 2022/23 and the Brazilian should be right in the thick of it when things kick off in the middle again, especially when he comes into close contact with long-time nemesis, Sergio Busquets.
Bruno Fernandes (fouled 1.22 times p/90) has been spending more and more of his time on the right flank when he can open up productive supply lines. Expect Jordi Alba to breathe down his neck if he drifts that way this evening.
Marcus Rashford had knees-knocking in the Barcelona defence a week ago and he could be marked out for some aggressive treatment this evening, especially if the game becomes stretched. The 25-year-old has been fouled 1.8 times per 90 in the Europa League this season.
Match-Ups to watch
Jordi Alba vs Bruno Fernandes
Sergio Busquets vs Casemiro
Jules Kounde vs Marcus Rashford
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
Looking through the pack alongside the bookie’s prices, there’s a few bet builder picks that stood out to me. I’ve left them down below if you’re interested in adding them to your betslip, but I’ve gone for them as a De Ja Vu – they all came through in the last game.
Manchester United vs Barcelona
Another selection that landed with ease last week. Granted, Barcelona are playing away from home in the second leg, but they have more than enough about them to win 4 corners across the 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
Barcelona won a total of 8 corners in the first leg, and it’s easy to see as to why. With players such as Raphinha attempting 4.19 dribbles P/90, there’s every chance that he takes on his man and forces a corner out of them.
Similarly on the left flank, whether it be Ferran Torres (6.02 dribbls P/90), or Ansu Fati (3.33 dribbles P.90) tonight, they’ll be taking on their man, whilst also being backed up by the marauding runs in behind from Jordi Alba. Such a combination is a recipe for success when it comes to corners, forcing United onto the back foot, and making them defend on their own goal line.
Barcelona average 6.05 corners P/90, and have accumulated 29 in their last 5 in all competitions.
Barcelona corners in their last 5 (all competitions): 5, 8, 2, 8, 6
United meanwhile, concede 5.67 corners P/90, a shockingly high amount for a team of that quality. They’ve conceded 32 in their last 5 games.
Man United corners conceded in their last 5 (all competitions): 6, 8, 7, 6, 5
With so much on the line, Barcelona will continue to attack the flanks, and corners should be a given.
Perhaps not the first name you’d think of for a shot on target across the two squads, but when taking last week’s encounter into consideration, Raphinha’s price is simply too good to ignore.
The Brazilian attempted a quite ridiculous 6 shots in 83 minutes at the Nou Camp, with 3 of them hitting the target, and 1 of them nestling in the back of the net. United largely stood of Barcelona’s enigmatic wide man, and given the same sort of space, he’ll likely have more pot shots at Old Trafford tonight.
All 6 of Raphinha’s efforts came from outside the area, and if he’s looking to shoot that regularly, then there’s every chance of a single shot hitting the target. He’s attempted 3.49 shots P/90 in La Liga this season, with 0.94 of those on target.
The Brazilian has amassed 6 shots on target in his last 4 starts in all competitions, and has even scored in 3 of those starts. With form on his side, there’s every chance he can hit the target again tonight.
United themselves are conceding 3.00 shots on target per game, and with the 5 conceded last week to Barcelona, Raphinha should fancy his chances of replicating his exploits in the first leg.
We were treated to an absolutely cracking reverse fixture between these two sides just a week ago, and with everything on the line, this one should be no different.
Both sides will have to come out and play here. With the away goals rule no longer a thing, United will need to come out firing and pick the lock to open the Barcelona defence, just as they did last Thursday. Barcelona themselves possess an abundance of quality, and with Lewandowski leading the line, goals are absolutely a possibility.
This selection flew in last week. 3 goals were bagged by the hour mark in a frantic and high paced affair, with a 4th added later on. The underlying stats from the first leg make for great reading as well. A total of 36 shots were attempted, 13 of which were on target, amassing to a combined xG of 3.23. There were chances aplenty in the first leg, and more of the same looks instore tonight.
United have seen 63% of their fixtures hit a minimum of 2.5 goals this season, and with Rashford in scintillating form, it’s easy to see as to why. The forward has scored in each of his last 5 in all competitions, and has scored 10 in his last 10 league games.
He terrorised Barcelona last time out, with 3 shots on target over the course of 90 minutes. 6 of United’s last 8 league fixtures have seen a minimum of 3 goals, and Rashford has played an integral part in that.
As for Barcelona, exactly 50% of their La Liga fixtures have had a minimum of 3 goals, but there’s something to be said for their European fixtures this season. 4 of their 6 Champions League group games finished with 3 goals or more, suggesting that goals are likely against top quality sides.
With domestic xG’s of 1.74 P/90 and 2.14 P/90 respectively, chances should be a given, and goals should flow in a game in which everything is still to play for.
Happy Birthday to Casemiro! Your present this evening, a yellow card.
A 4th and final selection that landed in last week’s game. Casemiro should be flying into tackles throughout this one, and there are some great narratives here.
The most important thing to take note of, Casemiro isn’t at risk of suspension if he gets booked in tonight’s game. He should be free to make as many tackles and fouls as he sees necessary.
His yellow in the first leg came from just a single foul, but as we’ve come to learn, more often than not, the Brazilian’s fouls are cynical.
He’s received a card in 5 of his last 8 in all competitions, a staggering number for a player as experienced as Casemiro. Yet, his 2.26 fouls P/90, and 4.09 tackles P/90, suggests that the supposed experience is irrelevant. His ill-discipline has shone through all season.
Once again, he’ll be at the base of the midfield here, likely tasked with protecting the back 4. That doesn’t mean that he won’t venture further forward to press, and in doing so, he’s likely to come up against the entirety of the Barcelona midfield.
Barca may be missing Spanish starlets Pedri and Gavi, but their likely midfield of Busquets, Kessie, and De Jong are still formidable. The trio are fouled 2.00, 1.89, and 1.10 times P/90, and Casemiro may have his work cut out marshalling the three of them.
Aside from that, there are some fantastic narratives here. As an ex Madrid player, Casemiro will be chomping at the bit to get past Barcelona in the Europa League, and will do anything it takes to stop them. Likewise, if United do take the lead, expect the cynical fouls to come thick and fast.
A Casemiro card is definitely possible here, and the circumstances make the chances even more likely.