Man Utd jet out to Barcelona for crunch Europa League clash with seven stars missing

February 15, 2023

Erik ten Hag will be without a number of his senior Manchester United players for the first leg of the Europa League play-off clash against Barcelona, thanks to injury and suspension.

A depleted Manchester United will be looking to overcome injuries and suspensions as they head to Barcelona for the first leg of their Europa League play-off.

Erik ten Hag’s side picked up 15 points from a possible 18 in their group, but it was not enough to deny Real Sociedad top spot and a bye to the last 16. As a result, they need to get through two legs against a Barcelona side who have dropped down to the Europa League after finishing third behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in their Champions League group.

United already knew they would be without Marcel Sabitzer and Lisandro Martinez for the first leg, but several others are also unlikely to feature. On-loan midfielder Sabitzer is unavailable after picking up a yellow card suspension with parent club Bayern, while Martinez earned his third booking of the competition in United’s final group game and will also be sidelined.

Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek have known for some time that they would miss this game. Van de Beek left the field in tears after a freak injury against Bournemouth in early January, while Eriksen is not expected back until April after being forced off in the FA Cup win against Reading.

Scott McTominay is also expected to miss out through injury, while question marks remain over Antony and Anthony Martial. The two forwards have missed recent games, and were nowhere to be seen in a training session ahead of the trip to Catalunya.

With Martinez unavailable, manager Ten Hag is expected to choose between Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof to play alongside Raphael Varane. There is also some positive news for the visitors in the confirmation that Casemiro will be part of the travelling party, with the former Real Madrid man fresh for the tie as he continues to serve a Premier League ban.

Barcelona will also be depleted, but not to the same extent. Xavi’s side have confirmed Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembele are missing through injury, though Spain midfielder Busquets could be back for the second leg.