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Manchester United vs FC Barcelona - 5 Best Knockout Matches

Both Barcelona and Manchester United are one of the biggest football clubs in Europe and their clash is always an exciting affair.

Sourav Ghosh
Last updated: 07.04.2019
Barcelona vs Manchester United | Sports Social Blog

It’s a shame that two of Europe’s most famous clubs have played just 11 fixtures between them. Maybe due to seeding based on the clubs’ league position or mere fate, Manchester United and Barcelona have faced each other in UEFA competition far too rarely for our liking. Barcelona (4) just edge out United (3) in terms of wins, while the remaining 4 games have ended in draws.


The first ever game was played on 7th March 1984, which was a European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final 1st leg tie. Barcelona claimed victory there and in the last game back in 2011, the Blaugrana were able to claim victory in the UEFA Champions League final.


This year’s quarter final will pit both these juggernauts of their countries, in a bid to determine who gets a coveted semi-final spot. A few years ago, this game would have been a closely contested affair and tough to predict. The scenario is a tad different right now. Barcelona are heavy favourites going into the tie whereas there is little to no hope for the Red Devils. The Catalans are enjoying a fine season with the aim of a treble. Meanwhile, their English opponents have had a hard time this season getting results and the overall team looking light years away, in terms of quality, compared to a Leo Messi led Barcelona. Barcelona made light work of Lyon in the round of 16 while Manchester United pulled off the mother of all escapes against PSG when they edged the tie via away goals after scoring a controversial penalty in injury time.


Before we head towards midweek, it’s time we take a look at some of the best knock out fixtures between these two. Enjoy!


1. Manchester United 3-0 Barcelona (21st March 1984, European Cup Winners Cup, Quarter-final 2nd leg, Manchester United won 3-2 on aggregate) -

This was only the 2nd ever game between the two clubs. These were the pre-Alex Ferguson days for Manchester United. Barcelona led the tie 2-0 after a first leg victory with an own goal from Graeme Hogg and a goal from Juan Carlos Rojo. It seemed a monumental task but this is Manchester United we’re talking about. Manchester United started on the front foot with Norman Whiteside looping the ball over the keeper and on to the bar.


Bryan Robson scored the first of his 2 goals via a diving header to half the deficit. After some horrific back passing from the visitors, he scored his second from a rebound off Ray Wilkins’ shot to level the aggregate scores. Arthur Albiston put in a cross for Norman Whiteside who managed to head it into the path of Frank Stapleton who slammed it home from close range, as a Diego Maradona featuring Barcelona side stood shell-shocked.


2. Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United (15th May 1991, European Cup Winners Cup, Final) -

English clubs returned to participate in Europe after a 5 year gap because of the whole Heysel Stadium disaster. A relatively easy path to the final for United pit them against a certain Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona side. Despite being labelled the underdogs, Manchester United got the first crack at goal when Brian McClair was set through on goal by Gary Pallister but ended up skying it.

The game was level at half time. Mark Hughes lobbed one over the keeper and had a shot deflected. Lee Sharp came closest to breaking the deadlock but it just went wide of the post. Mark Hughes eventually got the first goal when he tapped home Steve Bruce’s header which was pretty much heading for goal. He doubled the lead after rounding the keeper and shooting from a far and tight angle. Ronald Koeman got himself a compensation goal from his free-kick but it was a little too late.


3. Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona (29th April 2008, UEFA Champions League, Semi-final 2nd leg, Manchester United won 1-0 on aggregate) -

Coming to the Champions League era, these 2 teams squared off for a place in the final against Chelsea. After a goalless draw at Camp Nou, in which Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty, it all came down to the game at Old Trafford.


United were ready to play defence and that’s what they did throughout the 90 mins, barring ‘that’ sweet strike from Paul Scholes early in the game. Zambrotta managed to take the ball off Ronaldo but ended up playing it to Scholes who took a touch and put his laces through the ball. Valdes in goal didn’t have the slightest chance to get the ball heading for the top corner. A young Messi looked to pull things back but his effort was saved by Van Der Sar. Deco, Nani, Tevez, Henry and Park came close to scoring on occasions but nothing went in. Just that one goal settled the game before United took on Chelsea in the final and won the Champions League.


4. Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United (27th May 2009, UEFA Champions League, Final) -

A year later, they met again but this time it was in the final. United were looking to retain the Champions League and Barca were out for revenge. The game started with Manchester United dominating the proceedings. Ronaldo’s dipping free kick was saved by Valdes and Gerard Pique did well to deny Park a clear shot at goal from the rebound. A few more efforts from Ronaldo followed but there was no sight of goal.


Samuel Eto’o gave Barcelona the lead at 10 mins when he cut in from the right and poke it past Van Der Sar, at the near post. Henry came close but his shot was saved after which Xavi’s free-kick rattled the post. The champions of Spain were dominating play and rarely gave the defending Champions a sniff at goal. It was all over when Messi headed in a 2nd from Xavi’s cross in the 70th min. Ronaldo got a chance from close range but Valdes did well to deny him. Iniesta and Puyol tested Van Der Sar a few more times before the referee called an end to it.


5. Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United (28th May 2011, UEFA Champions League, Final) -

The last competitive game between the two juggernauts was nearly 8 years ago in another final. This was much more lethal Barcelona side and the game panned out pretty much that way. Pedro and David Villa took early cracks at goal. Eventually, the former scored the first goal of the game when Xavi found him with a through ball and he shot low and straight past the Dutch goalkeeper. It didn’t take long for Wayne Rooney to level things up with a brilliant passing move from United.


Then Barcelona turned on the heat with Messi running the show. In, the 54th min, the diminutive Argentine took it upon himself from Iniesta’s pass and moved forward just before blasting a low effort that went past a diving Van Der Sar. Barcelona were dancing past their opponents and there was nothing United could do about it. Villa finished off the proceedings with a brilliant curling effort from outside the box into the top corner. Continental domination was complete.

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