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.