Pre-Season Tour: Barcelona vs Manchester United Preview


Barcelona vs Manchester United Preview
Gothenburg, Aug 8: One of the biggest rivals in Europe Barcelona and Manchester United look to end their pre-season tour on a high when they clash heads in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Wednesday.

EPL 2012-13 Special

United are nearing their 22,000 mile world tour with four matches in South Africa, China, Norway and now Sweden.

In four matches, United beat AmaZulu 1-0, drew against Ajax Cape Town 1-1, followed by a clash against former Chelsea stars new team Shanghai Shenhua which United won 1-0 and finally a scoreless draw against Valerenga in Norway.

Barca, under new coach Tito Vilanova, had a successful tour so far, beating Hamburg SV 2-1, a 8-0 thrashing of Raja Casablanca in Morocco and 4-2 penalty shoot-out win against cash-rich Paris Saint-Germain followed by a 2-2 draw.

Besides the two heavy defeats suffered by United in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, the Red Devils beat the Catalans 2-1 in last year's pre-season friendly in Washington DC.

But the Spanish giants have scored 12 goals to United's three making it clear who is on top coming into this epic clash.

Both teams are set to play a strong line-up after their Euro 2012 stars returned to training. For Barca, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets are set to start along with star Lionel Messi. Forward Alexis Sanchez could start ahead of David Villa after impressing in previous matches.

For United, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick are set to play in midfield with wingers Ashley Young and Nani return from their break after Euro 2012. Patrice Evra will start at left-back while Antonio Valencia will replace Rafael, who is at the London Games with national side Brazil, at right-back with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the heart of defence.

Striker Wayne Rooney is likely to link up with Danny Welbeck but United's strike force is yet to click despite being creative outside the penalty area. Javier Hernandez (Chicarito) and new signing Shinji Kagawa could settle on the bench.

Tito Vilanova will look to shake up his line-up after some poor shows in defence. Carles Puyol, Pique and Dani Alves may start with left-back Carles Planas after first choice Alba's poor Olympic stint with Spain.

A close encounter is expected with Barcelona favourites to clinch a narrow win after their excellent pre-season form, while United cannot be taken lightly despite having a decent 22,000-mile pre-season campaign.

Probable Lineups:

Barcelona: Valdes-Alves, Puyol, Pique, Planas-Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta-Sanchez, Messi, Rafinha Alcantara.

Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Valencia-Scholes, Carrick, Young, Nani-Welbeck,Rooney.

Kick-Off: 11:30 PM IST, Gothenburg, Sweden

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