On Tuesday night, Manchester United crashed out of the UCL quarterfinals after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Barcelona. The Catalonians ran out 3-0 winners, with Lionel Messi scoring two. I know football is a game of surprises but is anyone really that surprised by the result?
Here’s why Manchester United never really stood a chance from the get-go.
Two Words: Lionel Messi
There are few players in the history of football that can boast to be as good or influential as Lionel Messi. The Argentinean has dominated a generation of football, regularly being crowned as the best player in the world. This season, the 31-year-old has single-handedly carried his Barca teammates to the La Liga title.
In reality, this is one of the worst Barcelona teams we’ve seen in years, but Messi’s influence can be seen through their nine-point cushion at the top of La Liga. He truly is great and Manchester United never really stood a chance against such greatness. Especially with Victor Lindelöf and Ashley Young starting as full-backs.
At Old Trafford, Messi looked out of sorts, he wasn’t really in the game, add to that an elbow from Chris Smalling and it was pretty much a night to forget for the Argentinean. However, in perhaps his one meaningful contribution of the evening, he assisted Luis Suarez’s winning goal. That’s because even on his off days, he still affects the game. But back in Spanish fortress, we always knew it’d be a different story.
Fortress: The Camp Nou
There aren’t many more revered or feared stadiums in world football than the Nou Camp. Over the years, Barcelona has dismantled many a team in Catalonia, including the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.
Barcelona not losing at home is one of those universal truths that seem to have been accepted by pretty much everyone on the planet. Just to prove so, Barcelona is now unbeaten in their last 31 UCL games at the Nou Camp.
The Parc des Princes was a fluke
This 3-1 win practically gifted wrapped the United job for Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Of course, the scoreline speaks for itself, but the fact he also brought on academy youngsters in the midst of it, only added to the feel-good vibe around the club.
A few weeks later, the Norwegian was awarded the most prestigious job in football. However, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, that win wasn’t a true reflection of United’s ability, in fact, it was a lie. Marco Verratti said it best the other day, if that same game is played ten times, PSG are winning it nine times.
Oh, you don’t agree with him? OK, let’s have a look at the stats for that game shall we:
- Possession: 72.4-27.6% in favour of PSG.
- PSG had 12 shots, United had 5.
- United was forced into making 27 clearances, while the French giants only had to make 5, clearly showing how little defending they had to do.
In essence, the Manchester United only attempted five shots all game and somehow scored three, lest we forget one of those attempts was Rashford’s long-range effort that led to the penalty. The Red Devils were completely outplayed at the Parc des Princes by a team that got thrashed by Barcelona only a while ago.
The spirit of ’99 was asked to be called upon for this game, but these players don’t have such quality, mentality or team spirit Sorry.