Different stakes tonight as both teams are concentrating on getting fit for the upcoming season. United are a week or so ahead of Barca in their preparation and that should help them tonight.
Barcelona Starting XI: Valdes; Fontas, Abidal, Alcantara, Keita; Busquets, Iniesta, dos Santos; Villa, Pedro, Afellay. Subs: Pinto, Masip, Balliu, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Suarez, Riverola, Cabelino, Lozano, Muniesa, Carmona, Espinosa, Cuenca
Manchester United Starting XI: De Gea; Evra, Vidic, Evans, Rafael; Cleverly, Anderson, Young, Nani; Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard, Amos, Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling, Fabio, Obertan, Owen, Giggs, Carrick, Park, Diouf, Berbatov, Macheda
That Puyol or Pique are not playing is not a surprise as neither practiced with the team last night.
Interesting selection for United with Cleverly getting the biggest start of his life. Big night also for Welbeck who starts up-front with Berbatov on the bench.
What do you think of the line-ups?
Teams are out on the pitch as the United fans make some noise. Finally we are ready for some football!
United’s pace on the flanks was giving Barcelona and it was not a surprise in the 22nd minute when United scored. United broke with Welbeck who slipped Nani through i on 1. Nani was just onside and slipped the ball past Valdes.
As the half progressed though Barcelona came more into it as Iniesta and Thiago starting pulling the strings in midfield.
United’s speed was very visible in the first half. Young, Welbeck, Nani and Rooney allow United to transition from defence to attack much quicker than last year. Plus you have Rafael, Cleverly and Anderson going forward. Makes United very hard to defend on the counter-attack.
Barcelona really picked up there tempo in the second half as United were unable to get out their own half for large periods of the half. So it was no surprise when Thiago scored with a great shot from the edge of the box on 70 minutes. Thiago was really impressive tonight and it makes you wonder why Barcelona are infatuated with Fabregas. I believe Thiago will be a better player than Fabregas.
Barce were on the front foot and the question was how would United respond? Well six minutes later they were ahead! Cleverly won the ball in midfield and fed Owen (who looked offside) and he ran through to beat Valdes. To United counter-attacking goals and both down the heart of the Barca defense.
United then had a chance to make it 3-1 in added time when Obertan skinned the Barcelona full-back and crossed for Owen who somehow hit it over from inside the six yard box. Bad miss.
Post Game Comments
Most interesting comment from Sir Alex was about the performance of Cleverly. He said he thought that Cleverly was United’s best player tonight and that he has put himself in a position to start in the middle of United’s midfield. Interesting stuff.
Barca were missing Xavi and Messi, two of the best three players in the world and that showed as they lacked that little bit of magic to pry open the United defense.
More telling though for Barca was that both United goals came straight down the middle of the pitch where Pique and Puyol usually patrol. Barca missed their experience tonight more than anything.