Manchester United’s Europa League campaign resumes on Thursday night as they face a tough test against Barcelona in the Round of 32.
After missing out on top spot in Group E of the Europa League to Real Sociedad on goal difference, United finished second, meaning they would have to face a team dropping down from the Champions League in the Round of 32 rather than advancing through to the last-16. United were arguably handed the toughest opposition available in Barcelona, with the Spanish giants currently leading La Liga by 11 points whilst conceding just seven goals in 21 league games.
Erik ten Hag has been handed some squad selection issues ahead of the clash, with both Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer suspended after accumulating too many yellow cards. Anthony Martial, Antony and Scott McTominay all missed training the day before the clash, whilst Casemiro is available with his current suspension not impacting the Europa League.
So, could United pick up a win at Camp Nou on Thursday? We simulated the game to find out.
We simulated Barcelona vs Man United to get a score prediction
To complete this simulation, we used FIFA 23 and updated the squads with the latest injuries and suspensions.
We predict that the hosts could set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with their line-up as follows: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, De Jong, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi.
We predict that United could set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with their line-up as follows: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Shaw, Malacia; Fred, Casemiro, Fernandes; Sancho, Weghorst, Rashford.
In traditional Barcelona style, the hosts controlled possession in the opening stages, with Frenkie de Jong dictating play in midfield. Raphinha hit the post in the 17th minute as the hosts looked more likely to take the lead, but a mistake from Barcelona moments later saw Xavi’s side punished as United went ahead.
As Barcelona tried to play their way out of the back, Pedri was pressed by Bruno Fernandes on the edge of his box, with the United captain winning the ball off the midfielder in a dangerous position. Once in the box, Fernandes slipped the ball into the path of Wout Weghorst, and the striker’s first-time shot flew across the ‘keeper and into the corner of the net.
It was United’s first shot of the game and only shot of the first half, with Ten Hag’s seeing little of the ball, despite taking the lead. United played a high line as they pressed Barcelona deep in their half, but the hosts managed to hit them on the break as Pedri levelled the score just before halftime.
A long ball forward was plucked out of the air by Robert Lewandowski, and the striker did well to hold the ball up before backheeling the ball into the path of Gavi on the overlap. The Spaniard burst away from Diogo Dalot to go through on goal, and his cross into the box was met by Pedri with a fantastic diving header to make it 1-1.
The goal was coming for the hosts, with United not at their best at Camp Nou in the opening 45 minutes. The pressure kept coming from Barcelona in the second half as David De Gea made a terrific save to keep the score level, but after 76 minutes, Lewandowski put his side ahead.