The FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United duel is already a classic in European soccer. The last time they met was in the knockout round of the UEFA Europa League, making it an unprecedented contest. They have met nine times, with a total of five wins for FC Barcelona, one for England, and three draws. In the first leg, the match ended in a 2-2 draw, with goals from Marcos Alonso and Raphina for the Blaugrana, Rashford, and Koundé's own goal for Ten Hag's side.
Almost eight years later, we all watched the Champions League match, Man United vs. Barcelona. Two European soccer historians that, for one reason or another, have not seen their paths cross again since the 2011 Champions League final. Then, at Wembley, Pep Guardiola's Barça beat Sir Alex Ferguson's United 3-1. Pedro, Messi, and Villa scored for the Blaugranas and Rooney for the English in what is the most recent precedent between these two teams.
In total, they have met five times in the top continental competition, for a total of nine matches played (three Catalan victories to one for United). Although it is true that they met three times in the former European Cup Winners' Cup, with two English wins (including the 1991 final) and one for FC Barcelona in the Champions League, the record is two encounters in the group stage, one in the semifinals and two in the final.
In the 1994-1995 season, Barcelona and Manchester United met in the group stage, drawing 2-2 at Old Trafford and Johan Cruyff's team sweeping home (4-0). However, the Catalans only advanced up to the competition's quarterfinals that year. The Catalans failed to progress beyond the competition's quarterfinals that year, although United did, and were crowned champions at the Camp Nou in 1998-99 when they also met in the group stage. After a double 3-3 draw, Barcelona was knocked out in that same round, keeping a thorn in their side that went beyond 2008.
In 2008, at the gates of the final, Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United knocked out Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona. A goal by Scholes in the second leg was enough for the Red Devils to reach the final, which they went on to win. From eleven meters, and in a fateful shootout against Chelsea, United lifted the last of the three Champions Leagues they have in their trophy cabinet.
The English team has had the chance to lift some more, but since then, it has always been prevented by the same team: the second-best in European competitions after Real Madrid. Thanks to Eto'o and Messi, Barcelona lifted the 'Orejona' in 2009 (2-0), and thanks to Pedro, Messi, and Villa, they did it in 2011 (3-1) in the last direct duel between two teams that, far from the European throne in recent years, dream of becoming the kings of the continent again.
The 2008 UEFA Champions League semifinal between Manchester United and Barcelona gave birth to a rivalry that is now part of soccer history: Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.
On April 23, 2008, the first of 37 chapters between the Argentinian and the Portuguese was written in the tournament that pits Europe's best teams against each other.
Messi was a 20-year-old boy wearing the number 19 jerseys, while Cristiano Ronaldo was already wearing the emblematic 7 at Manchester United at the age of 23. CR7 was already one of the idols at Old Trafford, while Leo was fighting for his place with players like Deco, Samuel Eto'o, and even Thierry Henry himself at Barcelona.
Ronaldo was looking for consecration, while Messi was surprising more and more with his performance on the pitch. The Portuguese arrived with an impressive record of 38 goals in 43 matches, while the Argentinean had 15 goals in 34 games. Cristiano's team won the duel because Rijkaard's Barcelona was in a slump, had lost the Spanish League, and could not score a single goal in the match against the Red Devils.
The protagonist of the first meeting between Messi and Ronaldo was to be the European, although he missed a penalty in the first leg, and the central role went to Paul Scholes, who scored the goal that gave the Red Devils a place in the final.
Unbiasedly, both players are two of the biggest stars in international soccer. Experts agree that they are among the best players in the last decade and the best paid.
Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to success several times and Argentina's national team to the world championship. At the same time, CR7 prompted Real Madrid to European glory and played successfully for Manchester United and Juventus.
Both have achieved multiple successes, broken their own records and won awards such as the FIFA Ballon d'Or and The Best awards.