Why Man United and Barcelona need to win their Champions League matches?
The two European powerhouses facing growing internal issues are set to return to the Champions League this midweek.
While Manchester United hope to continue to build momentum following a 5-0 drubbing to Liverpool, Barcelona are desperate to show signs of life in the wake of Lionel Messi’s summer departure.
Atalanta vs Manchester United
Despite putting Tottenham Hotspur to the sword over the weekend, under-fire Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskaer is not off the hook yet.
The scars of an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool are still fresh in spite of a 3-0 thumping victory in London, as the Red Devils head to the Gewiss Stadium to take on Atalanta.
Inspired by headline performer Cristiano Ronaldo, Man United came from a 2-0 half-time deficit to beat the Italians 3-2 at Old Trafford on Matchday 3 and move to the top of Group F.
The Portuguese ace was also the architect of United’s Matchday 2 comeback against Villarreal, netting a last-gasp winner to fire his side to an all-important victory.
A brace of come-from-behind triumphs has helped Man United put an underwhelming 2-1 defeat to Young Boys firmly behind.
However, a two-point lead over Villarreal and Atalanta cannot guarantee safe passage to the Champions League knock-outs, which means the Premier League powerhouse can ill-afford a slip-up here.
Having lost just one of their last 11 Champions League match-ups against Italian opponents (W8, D2), Solskjaer’s men will be confident of grinding out a positive result in Bergamo.
Yet, the Red Devils have to be wary of their uninspiring showings on the road that have led to three consecutive Champions League defeats on foreign soil.
That should change here, at least based on Atalanta’s paltry return of one win from five historical European meetings with English clubs (D1, L3).
Dynamo Kyiv vs Barcelona
A series of stressful events that led to Ronald Koeman’s sacking down the final stretch of last week doesn’t set Barcelona up well for their trip to Ukraine to meet Dynamo Kyiv.
The Catalans fired the Dutchman as part of their efforts to bounce back from a horrendous start to the season, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Deportivo Alaves in their first La Liga fixture in the post-Koeman era.
Koeman’s last Champions League match in charge of Barca saw the Spaniards secure a narrow 1-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv at Camp Nou, throwing themselves a lifeline in Group E.
Before beating the Ukrainians in the reverse fixture, Barca had gone five straight Champions League games without winning (D1, L4), including a pair of humiliating 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica this term.
What’s more, even though they’ve got off the mark last time out, the Catalans have still recorded their lowest goal tally after three matchdays of a single European campaign.
With a formidable trip to Bayern and an awkward home clash against Benfica lying ahead, Barcelona know winning this encounter is a must if they are to remain in the race for a runner-up finish.
Trailing second-placed Benfica by one point ahead of this round, the struggling Spanish juggernauts face the prospect of missing out on the Champions League knock-out stage for the first time in 18 years!
Therefore, it’s sufficient to say how desperately Barcelona need all three points here.