Will Lionel Messi’s ‘Magic’ Work Against Man United Tonight?

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Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

Barcelona FC Skipper, Lionel Messi will tonight face Manchester United at Camp Nou stadium, a week after his classic assist to Luis Suarez gave Barcelona the lone goal that sank the Red Devils before their electric fans at Old Trafford in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match played last Wednesday.

The return leg of the match will hold tonight at the palatial Camp Nou stadium, home of Barcelona. Messi’s involvement in tonight’s showdown will be the 32nd time the Argentine has taken on English clubs during his glittering career.

Man Utd coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arguably faces the toughest test of his short united reign tonight as his youthful ‘Red Army’ gallantly face the Spanish champions, hoping to oust the Catalans as they did to Paris Saint German (PSG) and Juventus while playing away outside Manchester.

Tonight’s encounter marks just the second time Lionel Messi will play against United at their stadium and the fifth time he will take them on during his scintillating career.

There was a time when Messi’s record against English clubs was criticised, but that has changed in recent years and the Argentine will be keen to add a goal at one of European football’s most famous arenas to his record.

The 31-year-old has taken on English clubs 31 times over the past 13 years, scoring an impressive 22 goals and setting up seven more.

Only four of those games and two of those goals have come against United – he scored in both the 2009 and 2011 finals, being named man of the match in the latter.

His previous club appearance at Old Trafford was a 1-0 defeat in the second leg of the 2008 semi-final, after the first leg had ended goalless. He also played in a 1-0 friendly defeat for Argentina against Portugal at the ground in 2014.

Messi has scored 13 goals in 14 games at the Nou Camp, but just seven goals in 14 away games on English turf – eight in 15 if you include the 2011 final at Wembley.

Arsenal has the worst record of any English club against Messi conceding nine goals in six games against him, while Chelsea’s is the most impressive. They have only let in three goals in 10 games against the Argentine.

Messi has played Manchester City six times scoring six goals, including two in three games in Manchester. His record against Tottenham is two goals in two games, while in two clashes with Liverpool he has drawn a blank.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has already scored eight times in six Champions League games this season and found the back of the net in Barca’s 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Saturday to make it 43 goals in all competitions for the current campaign.

 

Samson Oyedeyi

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