UEFA Champions League 2018-2019 - 5 reasons why Manchester United could eliminate Barcelona
Over the next week, Barcelona and Manchester United would battle it out across two legs for a spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League in what is undoubtedly the marquee fixture of this season's quarter-final.
Both clubs have been on very different trajectories this season as Barcelona's almost perfect campaign thus far sees them still in the running on three fronts, while Manchester United had to suffer under Jose Mourinho before the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought a revamp in their fortunes.
The Blaugrana have very much been the better of the two teams in recent seasons, winning multiple trophies, while the Red Devils have failed to match the previous standards since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
This coupled with the fact that Barca have the presence of arguably the greatest player in history within their ranks sees them being the favourites to progress in the tie. However, Manchester United are more than capable of upsetting the form book. In this piece, we shall be taking a look at five reasons why Manchester United may eliminate Barcelona from the Champions League.
#5 Lionel Messi does not have a good record at this stage
Lionel Messi is the greatest player in Barcelona's history and on a larger scale, he is arguably the greatest ever to lace a boot and grace the lush green of a football field.
It, therefore, serves as a no-brainer that the Argentine maestro is the driving force behind everything Barcelona have achieved since he made his debut as his performance levels have been so extraordinary that he has single-handedly decided the outcome of titles and finals of his own.
Messi's importance to Barcelona is best exemplified by the fact that the Catalans have scored 81 goals in La Liga this season, out of which 45 (55%) have come off the boots of Messi, with his 33 goals and 12 assists each being the league's highest as he is playing a crucial role in Barcelona surety in retaining their league title.
The five-time Balon d'Or winner also came to the fore in the Copa del Rey, starring with a hat-trick to eliminate Sevilla in the quarter-finals after a first leg deficit where he was rested, while he also played a huge role in getting Barcelona to this stage of the Champions League by assisting and scoring two each in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Lyon in the last round.
Given his extra-terrestrial abilities, it, therefore, comes as a surprise that Messi has not scored much at this stage of the Champions League, with his last goal coming way back in April 2013 in a 1-1 draw with PSG.
Incredibly, that is a run of 10 consecutive Champions League quarter-final matches without a goal for Messi, and the fact that Barcelona have progressed from the quarter-finals just once in that time (en route their treble win in 2015) further underlines just how important Messi is to the overall Barcelona cause.
While Messi might be a genuine threat who possesses the key to single-handedly decide this tie on his own, his poor recent record at this stage would give Manchester United the confidence of eliminating their Spanish opponents.