A host of Nigerian football fans have backed Barcelona to beat Manchester United at their Old Trafford home ground in their first leg quarter-final clash of this season’s UEFA Champions League.
This is the first time both teams will clash in the knockout stage of the Champions League since the 2007/2008 season. A stunning goal by Paul Scholes at Old Trafford gave United a 1-0 win and ultimately powered the English club into the competition’s final, which they won against Chelsea.
Going into the Wednesday’s first leg tie, United have recorded two wins and three defeats in their last five games, while Barcelona have won four and drew one in the same number of games.
Looking ahead to what has been described as a fire-cracker by football pundits, most of the respondents who spoke to Newsbreak said it was Barcelona’s game to lose.
Ganiyu Abass of Kay FC, a Lagos-based football club, said: “I am tipping Barcelona to win. The reason is that Barcelona is in top form compared to Manchester United, who have been struggling lately. If you’ve watched Barcelona’s games recently, you will agree with me that it will be difficult for Manchester United. Also United have not been doing well for some time now.
“I’m not saying United cannot surprise them but Barcelona still look like the favourite over the two legs.”
Dauda Nosiru, an Arsenal fan, also expressed the same sentiments made by Abass that Barcelona will triumph at Old Trafford.
He said: “It is very clear because Barcelona are in form now. So no matter what Man. United do, they will still lose. I know football is not something that you can predict, but Barcelona will defeat them right there at Old Trafford.
“I know that against PSG, Man United surprised everyone but this is Barcelona, and PSG cannot be compared to Barcelona. And as far as (Lionel) Messi is still there, Man. United will not get anything from the game on Wednesday.”
Also speaking, Jeje Mo, a Chelsea fan, said not even the presence of David De Gea, considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, in the goalpost would prevent United from conceding goals.
“From what people have been saying, on paper it is Barcelona but football being what it is you can’t predict. Like 84 per cent, give it to Barcelona and this is because they have a good team most especially with the presence of Messi.
“However I am not taking anything away from United; they are a big team in Europe, they have good players also and have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in David De Gea. So if I should predict what the scoreline will be in the first leg, I will say 2-1 in favour of Barcelona,” Mo said.
Bello Toheed, who supports the current Spanish league champions, boasted that United cannot replicate their comeback heroics against his beloved team as his team is unbeatable at the moment.
He said: “On current form, Barcelona are better than United and I think Barcelona will win 2-1. They should not think because they knocked out PSG, then they can do it to Barcelona also. Barcelona are more matured and experienced unlike PSG, who are only good in their league but always struggle in the Champions League.
“I am very confident, in fact, I am over 100 per cent confident that Barcelona will win tomorrow’s game and also qualify for the semi-final.”
However, Kenneth Akano, who is a Manchester United fan, argued that the English club is well-poised to win the game’s first leg at home against the Catalans.
He contended that United would fully utilise their home advantage to grind out the win, but noted that the club cannot stop Barcelona from scoring at Old Trafford.
Akano said: “Without being sentimental, I am confident that United will beat Barcelona. I know a lot of people have already given Barcelona the game, but this is football, anything can happen. If you check in the history of two-legged games between Barcelona and United, you will agree with me that Barcelona has always struggled. But when it comes to neutral games like in a final, Barcelona always edges it.
“And with the first leg taking place at Old Trafford, I believe United will take full advantage of that. And to predict what the first leg will be, I see United winning 3-2 or 3-1 because it will be difficult to stop Barcelona from scoring. I know the world will be backing Barcelona to win, but I tell you they will be shocked.
“I remember when Barcelona were drawn against Roma, everybody gave it to Barcelona. They were even saying Roma should not waste their time playing the game but they ended up knocking Barcelona out, and they are not even European giants. So if Roma can do it, I believe United, who are former Champions League winners, can do it.
But Ifeanyi Michael, another supporter of Manchester United, has doubted his beloved club’s chances of winning both the first leg and the entire game itself.
According to him, the quality of United’s players is below par and they would, therefore, not be able to match the skills of the visiting Spanish team.
“From what I am seeing, it is going to be very difficult for Manchester United because right now Barcelona are playing good football. They have teamwork and they have Messi, they have (Luis) Suarez and other top players. But when you look at Manchester United, they don’t have those quality players who can match the Barcelona players.
“The standard at Barcelona now is very high and I don’t think Manchester United have the quality to defeat them. Barcelona have too much quality players for United to contend with. United will do their best, but I don’t think their best will be good enough to stop Barcelona.”