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Manchester United vs Barcelona, Champions League: Final Score 0-1, Terrible Barça escape Old Trafford with first leg win

This was really, really, really, really bad.

Manchester United v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Barcelona saved their worst performance of the season for the worst possible moment: a trip to Old Trafford in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Thankfully for them they faced a very bad Manchester United team, so they still won 1-0 thanks to a Luke Shaw own goal. Every player on the pitch was bad, and it’ll take a much better performance at Camp Nou to clinch a place in the semifinal.


Barcelona made a perfect start to the game, owning possession in the first 15 minutes and not allowing United to press high or play on the counter attack. The Blaugrana also scored a goal after a long stretch of possession, a beautiful pass from Sergio Busquets and a cross from Lionel Messi to Luis Suárez, who tried to head it back across to Phlippe Coutinho but saw the ball deflect off Luke Shaw before going in.

After Barça’s amazing beginning, United started pressing high up the pitch and forced Busquets, Clément Lenglet and Marc-André ter Stegen into some poor mistakes in the buildup, and although the Red Devils never created a real scoring chance they were clearly the better team on the pitch and executed a really good plan to make Barça really unsettled in possession and unable to create any meaningful chances in the last 30 minutes of the half.

At halftime, United were playing better and Barça had the lead. The second half was going to be fascinating.


Barça somehow managed to play even worse to start the second half: they couldn’t string more than three passes together, players were either static offering no outlets or running at the wrong time, and they still had gigantic problems bypassing United’s press. So Ernesto Valverde made a double change: Arturo Vidal and Sergi Roberto replaced Coutinho and Arthur, which caused a switch in formations to mirror United’s setup and beef up he midfield.

United weren’t doing anything themselves, and the first 25 minutes of the second half were some of the worst, most unwatchable football we’ve seen in the Champions League in a while. The substitutions made Barça a little better as they became stronger in possession and didn’t give the home team easy counter-attacking chances, but they still had a lot of trouble creating opportunities.

As we reached the final 10 minutes, it was clear that Barça accepted they were having an off-night and were focused on leaving Old Trafford with the 1-0 win, so keeping the ball to limit United’s attacks became their priority. The plan worked, and the final whistle came to end the misery of every person who wasted two hours of their life on this.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets (Aleñá), Arthur (Roberto); Messi, Suárez, Coutinho (Vidal)

Goal: Shaw (OG 12’)

Man United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Dalot (Lingard); McTominay, Fred, Pogba; Rashford (Pereira), Lukaku (Martial)

Goals: None

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