The UEFA Europa League is back in action with another round of matches this week as Barcelona lock horns with Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United side at the Camp Nou on Thursday.
Barcelona are currently at the top of the La Liga standings and have been impressive on the domestic front under Xavi so far. The Catalan outfit defeated Villarreal by a narrow 1-0 scoreline over the weekend and will look to take it up a notch in this fixture.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are in third place in the league table at the moment and have shown marked improvement under Erik ten Hag. The Red Devils defeated Leeds United by a 2-0 scoreline in their previous game and will be intent on achieving a similar result this week.
Barcelona have been impressive in recent weeks and have built a formidable squad this season. The Catalan defense has been particularly reliable this season and will need to be at their best against a strong Red Devils side.
Manchester United have also stepped up over the past month and will likely take a robust approach to the game. Barcelona have the upper hand at home, however, and should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Manchester United
This match will start from 1:30 am
This match will take place on 24 February 2023
Barcelona will be without key duo Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets, who are set to miss both legs of their Europa League playoff tie with respective hamstring and ankle injuries.
In the absence of Dembele, one of Gavi, Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati could operate on the left flank, joining top scorer Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha in the front three.
Gavi is also an option to fill in for the injured Busquets in midfield, but Franck Kessie was given the nod to start alongside Frenkie de Jong and Pedri last time out, and the Ivorian may retain his starting role on Thursday.
Xavi is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to his defence – which has kept more clean sheets (16) than any other team across Europe’s top-five leagues so far this term – but he may consider replacing Alejandro Balde with experienced left-back Jordi Alba.
Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; Pedri, De Jong, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Shaw, Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Weghorst
We say: Barcelona 2-2 Manchester United
Barcelona are right to feel optimistic heading into Thursday’s battle, but their impressive unbeaten run and defensive exploits are set to be put to the test by a Man United outfit who continue to go from strength to strength under Ten Hag.
Whether a tight affair or free-flowing contest will be on show at Camp Nou remains to be seen, but we are predicting the game to gradually morph into the latter, with the spoils shared in a closely-fought yet entertaining first-leg tie.
Tip 1: Result – Barcelona
Tip 2: Game to have over 2.5 goals – Yes
Tip 3: Barcelona to score first – Yes
Tip 4: Robert Lewandowski to score – Yes
Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats, suggests the most likely outcome of this match is a Barcelona win with a probability of 66.39%. A draw has a probability of 19.1% and a win for Manchester United has a probability of 14.49%.
The most likely scoreline for a Barcelona win is 2-0 with a probability of 10.75%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome are 2-1 (9.84%) and 1-0 (9.83%). The likeliest drawn scoreline is 1-1 (8.99%), while for a Manchester United win it is 1-2 (4.11%).
You can also live stream the UEFA Europa League 2023 on JioTV, Sony LIV App, and Airtel XStream on your mobile.
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