Match preview: Barcelona v United

Tuesday 14 February 2023 07:00

Manchester United face Barcelona in the first leg of a mouthwatering Europa League knockout round play-off tie at the Nou Camp on Thursday evening (17:45 GMT).

After a three-month hiatus, the European competitions return with United facing the Catalans for the 14th time in our history, although this is the first meeting between the clubs in this tournament.

Here's what you need to know before the action gets under way...


Our clash with Barcelona will be shown live on BT Sport and kick-off at the Nou Camp is scheduled for 17:45 GMT on Thursday.

MUTV will also provide exclusive build-up and post-match reaction, along with further must-see content being available on and in the United App.

Our live pre-match coverage will start at 16:40 GMT, and will be followed by full radio commentary during the 90 minutes.


Two-minute highlights of the game will be available from midnight on Friday, with extended versions being published on Saturday.


Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer will miss the game as they must serve a one-match suspension, although Casemiro is free to play as his ban only relates to domestic competitions.

Antony, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay are injury doubts, with Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek long-term absentees. Wout Weghorst and Jack Butland, along with Sabitzer, have been added to the Europa League squad.

Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets are set to be ruled out for Barcelona.


United finished second in Europa League Group E, behind Real Sociedad.

Despite beating La Real 1-0 in San Sebastian on matchday six - the same scoreline the Basque outfit had defeated us by at Old Trafford in September - Imanol Alguacil's side came top by virtue of recording a better goal difference in the games with Omonia Nicosia and Sheriff Tiraspol.

Barcelona played in the Champions League prior to Christmas but dropped into the Europa League having finished third in Group C, behind Bayern Munich and Internazionale.

How Barcelona are shaping up for Thursday


The Catalans were in La Liga action over the weekend ahead of the first of two Europa League meetings with United.


United continue to fight on all four fronts and come into the game off the back of a morale-boosting 2-0 win at Leeds on Sunday - Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho were the goalscorers.

Barcelona's win at Villarreal at the weekend, courtesy of Pedri's goal, was their sixth straight success in La Liga. In the 12 top-flight games Xavi's side have played since losing October's Clasico to Real Madrid, they've dropped just two points - in a 1-1 draw with city rivals Espanyol on New Year's Eve.

Barca have the best defence in Europe's top five leagues, conceding just seven times in the league this term and, amazingly, just the once at home.

The Catalans have pulled 11 points clear of Real at the summit of La Liga and look in a strong place to secure their first title in four years.

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Barca's defensive solidity has been built on the form of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The German has kept 16 clean sheets in La Liga and that's four more than any other goalkeeper in Europe's top five leagues has managed this season.

Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde have provided solidity in front of Ter Stegen, while the La Masia-produced Alejandro Balde has been a revelation at left-back.

Barca's midfield is also packed full of young talent, with Pedri and Gavi indispensable for both club and country, although Sergio Busquets - who will miss the first leg - is still the beating heart in the middle of the park for the Catalans.

While Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres and Raphinha all add quality in attack, there's no question about who Barcelona's leading man is.

Robert Lewandowski has scored 23 goals in 27 appearances since joining from Bayern Munich in the summer and the Polish hotshot recently claimed his first trophy with the club, scoring in the Spanish Super Cup final win over Real Madrid last month.

Lewandowski has been one of Europe's premier marksmen for well over a decade.


There are eight Europa League knockout round play-off first legs taking place this week, split between the early evening and later kick-offs…

Barcelona v UNITED (17:45 GMT)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Rennes (17:45 GMT)
Ajax v Union Berlin (17:45 GMT)
RB Salzburg v Roma (17:45 GMT)

Juventus v Nantes (20:00 GMT)
Sporting Club v Midtjylland (20:00 GMT)
Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco (20:00 GMT)
Sevilla v PSV Eindhoven (20:00 GMT)