Barça hold slender advantage in Champions League showdown with Manchester United

Leo Messi and 90,000 team-mates keen to ensure no comeback is on the cards

Leo Messi can expect to be hounded at the Camp Nou
Leo Messi can expect to be hounded at the Camp Nou / Daniel Wittenberg

Daniel Wittenberg | Barcelona

April 16, 2019 05:59 PM

FC Barcelona have a simple but precarious task when they come face-to-face with Manchester United at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

Their 1-0 win over the Reds last week made the Blaugrana the sole Champions League quarter-finalists to take a lead into the home leg.

Ernesto Valverde's side, with the biggest crowd in the world behind them, can afford a draw and don't even need to score unless United do.

That would be promising enough – and they have also lost only one European knockout match inside Catalonia over the last decade.

Comeback kings

If any team could stage such a comeback, however, it is Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side.

The Reds made a habit of remarkable late turnarounds under Sir Alex Ferguson, prompting stoppage time to be termed 'Fergie Time'.

And Fergie's greatest triumph took place at the Camp Nou, with Solskjær the protagonist.

The Norwegian will focus on the present when 9pm arrives, but he has admitted to reminiscing about his cup-winning goal in 1999.

Footballing fate

That said, the striker-turned coach insisted his players "cannot rely on fate" to fill any gaps against the La Liga frontrunners.

Leo Messi is fit to start despite suffering a facial injury in the first leg, and Valverde promised they would set out to win on the night.

If they do, Barça would be likely to come up against more English opposition in their bid for a sixth Champions League trophy.

The winners are drawn to meet either Liverpool or Porto in the semi-final, with the Premier League side 2-0 up at the halfway point.

The first leg would take place at the Camp Nou on April 30 or May 1 and would be Barça's first appearance in the last four since 2015.

As luck would have it, the final will be in Madrid, with Pep Guardiola's Man City or Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus among their potential rivals.

But neither side can rely on fate.