With Manchester United taking on Barcelona in a pre-season friendly at the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, there couldn’t possibly be a better time to enjoy some of the cracking matches between these two over the years.
Louis van Gaal’s men are 11/5 with Ladbrokes to beat the newly crowned champions of Europe, who are 5/4 favourites in California, but nobody’s betting the game will be a patch on any of the five sizzlers listed below:
Man Utd 3-0 Barcelona, March 21st 1984
Bryan Robson finest hour-and-a-half in a football jersey, as ‘Captain Marvel’ scored twice and laid on another for Frank Stapleton to overhaul a two-nil deficit from the first leg, booking his side a place in the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final, where they lost to eventual winners Juventus.
Here’s the former England skipper reliving the night:
Barcelona 3-3 Man Utd, November 25th 1998
Los Blaugrana came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to secure a Champions League group stage point against United at Old Trafford two months previously, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side went ahead twice on the road following Sonny Anderson’s first-minute opener, only for Rivaldo to secure another 3-3 by completing a brace late on.
Incidentally, Barca bowed out two weeks later after finishing third behind Bayern Munich and United, who memorably contested the Camp Nou final in May, with the latter taking the title courtesy of two injury-time goals.
Man Utd 2-1 Barcelona, May 15th 1991
Steve Bruce will claim it should have been his, but Mark Hughes got the ball rolling in this Cup Winners’ Cup final when finishing off the centre-half’s header towards goal, with the Welsh marksman adding another before Ronald Koeman’s late consolation took the edge off for Barca.
Fergie claimed only United’s second ever continental prize, and his second Cup Winners’ Cup having taken it seven years earlier with Aberdeen, in English clubs’ first season back in Europe following the Heysel ban.
Barcelona 4-0 Man Utd, November 2nd 1984
A 2-2 draw at Old Trafford offered hope in United’s first ever Champions League group stage campaign, but the loss of suspended talisman Eric Cantona, plus goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel due to the limit of three foreign players, was much too great to overcome in Catalonia.
Romario and Hristo Stoichkov ran rings round United’s defence, with stalwart centre-half Gary Pallister particularly culpable for the second goal.
Barcelona 3-1 Man Utd, May 28th 2011
A better game than many may have expected after Pep Guardiola’s men’s 2-0 trouncing of their opponents a couple of years earlier, with United relieved of Cristiano Ronaldo in the interim.
After Pedro gave his side the lead within half an hour, Wayne Rooney struck back to put the teams level going into half-time, before Barca trio Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi passed United into the ground, leaving even the mighty Paul Scholes chasing his tail.
Messi and David Villa made sure of a fourth Blaugrana European Cup win either side of the hour mark.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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