3 positives and 2 negatives from Manchester United drawing Barcelona
Manchester United’s reward for defeating PSG is a Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.
Our initial reaction is ‘bring it on’, and after defeating PSG, anything is possible.
There’s a lot to get into, and there are positive and negative elements to the draw.
United’s opponents if they progress will be a semi-final against the winner of the Liverpool and Porto tie.
Win and the biggest threat is out
Barcelona killed our Champions League dreams in 2009 and 2011, beating us in the final.
If we can get past them in the quarter-finals, the path won’t exactly be clear, but it will be a lot easier.
We beat them in the 2008 semi-finals to set up a final with Chelsea and we need to conjure up that same defensive resilience again. A Paul Scholes-esque moment of magic wouldn’t go amiss.
A chance to test against the best
For players like Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, these ties will be the biggest games of their club careers.
If we do lose, inexperience will be one of the factors. By the same token, they will gain experience for future seasons and be better prepared in the process.
It’s a chance for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to further test himself too, and see which of his players can step up and relied upon for next season.
No shame in defeat
It all felt a bit flat when we lost to Sevilla last season. United were favourites and should have won.
This time around we will be underdogs and that could work in our favour.
If we do lose, there should be limited criticism. Being knocked out by a Premier League rival would be a nightmare and that is a welcome scenario to avoid.
Chances don’t look good
Let’s be realistic. Barcelona are a powerhouse. They beat Lyon 5-1 at the Nou Camp and sit nine points top of La Liga, losing only twice this season.
Lionel Messi is an unstoppable force, as United have previously discovered. A draw against Porto or Ajax would have given us a much smoother path.
A win is possible, after all we did not expect to beat PSG, but there is a strong chance this year’s Champions League campaign will be over.
Prepare for Pogba rumours
If there is going to be one really annoying aspect of facing Barcelona, it will be all the speculation which inevitably cranks up linking Paul Pogba with a move there.
It will be used to unsettle him and while The Telegraph report Barcelona can’t afford him, it won’t stop the tabloids in England and Spain circulating it.
And all the nonsensical Coutinho to United rumours? Leave it out.