Manchester United Vs Barcelona, Barcelona Vs Manchester United. Yes, you read it twice. Two football matches between arguably two of the biggest footballing institutions on the planet.
The two teams have dominated domestic football for extended periods, shared success in European and world club football and are bastions of heritage, a way of playing, burgeoning talent factories and globally recognised brands to boot.
Off the field Manchester United have a big three social media footprint (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) of 117 million followers while Barcelona boast a rather more formidable cloud presence with 193 million. These two football clubs are behemoths of the sports business world and are respectively ranked 1 and 4 in world sport (intertwined by Real Madrid and Dallas Cowboys) with fiscal revenues of $1.05 billion and $794 million respectively (Forbes).
The clubs have history, the tie has history and this UEFA footage looks back at their last five Champions League meetings with exquisite goals from the likes of Rivaldo, Messi, Beckham and Scholes. An appetite whetting feast of world class football setting the scene for two of the biggest games in this year’s global sports calendar.
Barcelona have the edge in competitive European ties between the two having won four to Manchester United’s three and with four draws thrown in for good measure. However, the last two times Manchester United have won the Champions League it has been at the expense and elimination of a certain FC Barcelona en route.
In this mini article trilogy, fcbusiness takes a look at the history of the tie, current form, where the key performance indicators are pointing and finally access to an exclusive podcast with Mike Phelan, current assistant manager of Manchester United.
The tie certainly beckons to be the pick of the round and evidence suggests fast paced and full of goals. The two teams both play attacking football with Barcelona more often than not working their way up the field through persistently evolving triangles while Manchester United’s current strength appears a faster paced approach with electrical finishing power as they enjoy a vastly improved purple patch of goal conversion since the installation of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the wheel.
Both clubs have their talismen, the undeniable great Lionel Messi of Barca and the mercurial Paul Pogba of the red devils, although the former is surely the first pick of the majority of football savvy Champions League aficionados, it is Pogba who has the title current world champion to his name.
With regard to the bigger picture it is the victors of the Liverpool v Porto tie who will lie in wait for whichever team emerges victorious from this gladiatorial battle and that in turn leaves the other side of the draw housing Manchester City, home of Barca legend Pep Guardiola. With City also being a team on whom no love is lost from the red side of Manchester it is therefore highly possible that whichever teams set of fans end up on the losing side over these coming days may ultimately end up willing on their own conquerors in the Madrid final on June 1.
The scene is set, and the world awaits. Over 165,000 fans will attend over the two legs, tens of millions will watch around the world on TV while 22 men hare relentlessly up and down a field and a man in the middle dressed in yellow will somehow try and make sense and fair of it all. Drinks and popcorn at the ready, seatbelts on and enjoy the ride as the world embraces the greatest game on earth.
Tomorrow we will look at the key performance indicators of each team and the route to the quarter finals of both teams.
This article was authored by @HorrocksDavid director of www.sensiblesoccer.co.uk
Image: PA Images