Erik ten Hag has had quite the first year at Manchester United. The Dutchman recovered from a poor start to turn the Red Devils into genuine top-four candidates. United are also looking to go far in the cup competitions this season.
Can United See Off Barca?
Man United booked their place in the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, though they missed out on the top spot in Group E on goal difference. As a result, United now face Spanish giants Barcelona in the knockout play-offs. The Red Devils are also going great guns in the Premier League. Ten Hag’s troops are available at EPL betting odds of just 1/7 to finish in the top four. You can get 16/1 for Man United to win the Premier League.
The Red Devils have put themselves in a great position to claim one of the four Champions League places. Getting back into UEFA’s elite club competition is the priority, and United would do just that by winning the Europa League (13/2) regardless of their final league position.
Man United, who won the competition in 2017, face a tough-looking knockout play-off tie against La Liga leaders Barcelona. Xavi’s men were disappointing in the Champions League but are flying domestically right now.
The first leg of the tie will take place at Camp Nou in mid-February. United will be desperate for a positive result ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford a week later. If they can get past Blaugrana, ten Hag and his men will fancy their chances of beating anyone in this season’s Europa League.
Barca are always formidable opponents, and Man United have had several ding-dong battles against the Spanish heavyweights in recent times. With both teams in fine form in their domestic divisions, the two-legged European tie promises to be a cracker.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>🚨 United's squad for our two-legged tie against Barcelona has been confirmed.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MUFC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MUFC</a> || <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/UEL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#UEL</a></p>— Manchester United (@ManUtd) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ManUtd/status/1623004710952218641?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 7, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Will Red Devils Finish in the Top Four?
Before a ball was kicked this season, a top-four place in the Premier League would have been the main aim for new boss ten Hag. Man United finished second behind rivals Manchester City at the end of the 2020-21 season, but they missed out on the top four last term, finishing up in sixth place.
Ten Hag’s reign at the Theatre of Dreams got off to the worst possible start when United lost 2-1 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion before suffering an embarrassing 4-0 reverse at Brentford. However, they have come on leaps and bounds since, with ten Hag getting his message across to his talented squad of players.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Without the fans cheering us over the line today, this victory isn't possible. We appreciate every single one of you! 👉🏾🙎🏾♂️ <a href=”https://t.co/Alb3AJQPBm”>pic.twitter.com/Alb3AJQPBm</a></p>— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MarcusRashford/status/1621924667618361344?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 4, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Along with their Europa League and top-four push, Man United are also through to the 2022-23 EFL Cup final. The Manchester outfit will face top-four rivals Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium. They are also through to round five of the FA Cup, taking on fellow Premier League side West Ham United at Old Trafford in early March.
If Man United can beat Barca in the Europa League knockout play-off, they will be right up there with the favourites to win the European competition. It is shaping up to be a memorable first season for ten Hag at Old Trafford, but can the Red Devils get their hands on some silverware in 2023?