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FC Barcelona 1-3 Manchester United: Match Review

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A look back as Luis Enrique's men succumbed to a 1-3 defeat to Louis van Gaal's Manchester United.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Before the game, there were shades of it being billed as the student coming up against the teacher. Luis Enrique was at the Camp Nou during Louis van Gaal's up and down tenures as the Barça head coach and it seemed the Dutchmen had fond memories of his ex-player. Asked during his pre-match conference, the United boss was full of praise for his Barcelona counter part.


Despite the game being a pre-season friendly, both teams started in a competitive manner. The match was a repeat of the 2011 Champions League final and in a parallel with that game, United started on the front foot. Club captain Wayne Rooney found space in the area but his shot was tame and easily saved.


A few minutes later and the scales had shifted in Barça's favour. Luis Suárez was leading the line and saw his free kick cannon off the post while Sergi Roberto was showing an ever-willing eagerness to get forward and was denied only by David de Gea in getting the game's opening goal.


On a hot day in San Fransisco, the pitch was showing signs of the temperature and looked slow and dry. As Xavi will tell you, this hampers Barça's play as they can't get into their natural, high tempo rhythm but it played right into the hands of United as the Red Devils could play long balls forward without the ball zipping away from them.


Seven minutes into the tie and the opening goal was scored. The left flank was looking promising for the Manchester club with Ashely Young and Luke Shaw doubling up to get at Adriano and it was from this avenue that the goal came. Young earned and took a corner that was met by the head of Rooney. The United number ten was completely mismatched against Adriano and found connecting and scoring the header an easier task than he was possibly expecting before the game.


After the goal, Barcelona settled into their long periods of possession and with a one goal advantage, United were happy to let them have the ball. Suárez was looking for any kind of space while Andrés Iniesta was performing his regular magic trick of appearing to be everywhere at once.


The Catalan club were trying to sniff out goal threats, but with United adopting a counter-attack approach they were the ones who had the better of the chances. Wayne Rooney was getting space in the box without getting away a final product and there were also half-hearted appeals for a penalty.


The sides went in at 1-0 and Enrique elected to switch out Adriano and Marc-André ter Stegen for Ivan Rakitić and Jordi Masip. The second half started in the same vain as the first with United on top, looking to double their advantage.
New signing Memphis Depay was looking lively as he turned and shot in the box but was denied by Masip while Rooney was looking to double his personal tally but a tame shot from outside the area was easily saved by the Barça keeper.
The hour mark came and Barcelona did have the ball in the net. Suárez timed a run before cooly finishing past De Gea but replays showed he was just fractions offside and the goal was chalked off.


With the sixty minutes passed, van Gaal elected to change his entire eleven and it proved dividends as two minutes later, United were two up. A product of United's youth academy Tyler Blackett connected with another academy graduate in Jesse Lingard. Blackett made his way down the left hand side of the penalty area before drilling the ball across to the grateful feet of Lingered. The 22 year old fired it into the net and that all but sealed the game for the reds.
Enrique also made wholesale changes with a few youngsters, such as Alen Halilović, were given game time and although Barcelona created more chances the game was heading towards finishing at 2-0.


But with normal time almost up, Rafinha got Barça on the scoresheet. His well placed volley flew into the net and there was a possibility of Barça tying the game. But those thoughts were quickly squashed as Adnan Januzaj broke free and finished past Masip as the game finished 3-1 to United.


But Culés shouldn't be too disheartened. This is only a pre-season friendly and United are much further in their preparations than Barcelona as the Premier League starts two weeks earlier than La Liga. It was a good exhibition of football in front of a 68,000 strong crowd and focus can now switch to Chelsea on Wednesday.