Manchester United 2-1 FC Barcelona: three decisive moments

A resounding triumph that Old Trafford had yearned for nearly a decade, Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United came from behind to beat FC Barcelona and progress to the next phase of the Europa League.

It was a tie that was largely controlled by Manchester United over the two games, and they deserved to progress to the round of 16.

While there is a great chance for a silver medal this weekend in the Carabao Cup, Manchester United fans were filled with great positivity after conceding a goal and coming back to win 2-1.

These were the three areas in which Manchester United beat Barcelona:

magic in midfield

While the game didn’t start in Manchester United’s favor with Xavi’s team going to the front, the combination of Casemiro and Fred in midfield provided the Red Devils with a path back into the tie.

Fred, home and away, had two of his best performances of the season. His tenacity and industry matched his forward-thinking nature and his ability to step in and out of the box to pose a threat.

It was his equalizing goal at Old Trafford that started the comeback, before fellow Brazilian Antony finished it off. Fred’s marauding runs proved to be a handful for the Barcelona defense in the end, as they were outnumbered and unsure who to pick up and when.

Casemiro, as always, was instrumental in looking for danger and gave Manchester United the solid platform on which to operate. Even when the Red Devils were under pressure from the Spanish team, the Brazil international was there to thwart the danger.

Between the two Brazilians, Manchester United’s midfield remained rock solid and full of energy.

defensive confidence

It’s been almost a decade since Manchester United had real leadership and authority at the heart of their defence, under a manager who brought it to life.

But now, with the blossoming relationship of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martínez developing in front of the fans’ eyes, Manchester United have two central defenders who are paving the way.

The Red Devils’ defense may not yet be completely stable, but it has made leaps and bounds this season, thanks to the arrival of Martínez and the form of Varane. Coupled with the resurgence of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the fantastic form of Luke Shaw, Manchester United now have a back four that they are beginning to dominate.

Red Devils fans hope it continues for many more years.

Ten Hag Substitutions

Perhaps an overlooked attribute of Ten Hag has been his ability to influence games off the bench. Once again, the arrival of Antony at half-time to replace Wout Weghorst proved to be a master lesson in decision-making.

Time and time again, the Dutch manager has managed to positively turn games in Manchester United’s favor by analyzing the game in front of him and bringing the necessary players onto the field.

There has rarely been a time where Ten Hag has made the wrong decision on his substitutions, which just goes to show just how incredible his mentality is when looking to affect the game.

Manchester United fans can be sure that Ten Hag makes the right decision at the right time.


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