The eight times Manchester United have faced Barcelona in European competitions and how they fared
Manchester United and Barcelona are two of the grandest names in European football and fans are always excited when they play against each other.
Encounters between the two sides are rarely dull and they memorably met in two Champions League finals in three years in 2009 and 2011.
They will face each other in a Europa League playoff tie next year after United finished second in their Europa League group and Barcelona finished behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in the Champions League group stage.
We’ve taken a look at the times United and Barcelona have played each other in European competitions.
1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals
United’s first encounter with Barcelona ended in defeat as Graeme Hogg’s own goal and a brilliant volley from Juan Carlos Rojo gave the Spanish side a 2-0 win at Camp Nou.
Ron Atkinson’s side were left with a mountain to climb in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford but Bryan Robson produced one of his most iconic performances, scoring twice to make it 2-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona, who had legendary players like Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster, were overwhelmed and Frank Stapleton struck the winner to send United into the semi-finals.
“Every time the question comes up about the best game I played in, for atmosphere it was the best game ever,” Norman Whiteside told the Manchester Evening News when reflecting on that second leg.
“I’ve played in World Cups and in cup finals but that night at Old Trafford it was electric. All those cliches such as the roof coming off, getting goosebumps on the back of your neck, like having an extra man, they were all true that night.
“I remember the likes of Paddy Crerand talking about the great European nights, I was wondering what to expect, I was only a kid and I hadn’t experienced it yet. Afterwards, you realised what he meant, it truly was one of the great European nights at Old Trafford.”
🤩 Absolute scenes 🤩
🏆 Frank Stapleton fired home in the European Cup Winners' Cup #OnThisDay in 1984 ⏪#MUFC #GoalOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/EhAv7VOs61
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 21, 2020
1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup final
Having won the FA Cup in 1990, Sir Alex Ferguson then guided United to the Cup Winners’ Cup final a year later and they came up against Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona.
Despite being without Andoni Zubizarreta and Hristo Stoichkov, Barcelona boasted talents like Michael Laudrup, Ronald Koeman, Julio Salinas and Albert Ferrerwere and were regarded as favourites in Rotterdam.
After a goalless first half, United striker Mark Hughes came back to haunt his former club and scored a quickfire brace in the second half.
Ronald Koeman puled one back for Barcelona with a brilliant free-kick but United held on to claim their first continental silverware since winning the 1968 European Cup.
1994 Champions League group stage
United reached the Champions League group stage for the first time in 1994/95 and were drawn against Goteborg, Galatasaray and Barcelona.
Hughes broke the deadlock when Barcelona came to Old Trafford but goals from Romario and Jose Mari Bakero turned the game around. Lee Sharpe then came to United’s rescue, subtly backheeling Roy Keane’s cross beyond the diving Carles Busquets to make it 2-2.
While the game at Old Trafford ended in a draw, the game at Camp Nou was a much more one-sided affair.
Stoichkov netted a brace and a Romario goal was sandwiched between his two efforts. Full-back Albert Ferrer then added a late fourth to rub salt into United’s wounds.
Barcelona teach Manchester United a lesson, 1994. @90sPlayerspic.twitter.com/Q7xD5oN35X
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) January 1, 2019
1998 Champions League group stage
In 1998/99, Champions League Group D was dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ with Manchester United drawn together with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Brondby.
United raced into a two-goal lead against Barcelona when Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both scored inside the opening 25 minutes at Old Trafford.
Barcelona refused to give up and Sonny Anderson halved the deficit at the start of the second-half before Giovanni equalised from the penalty spot.
Beckham restored United’s lead with a brilliant free-kick but Nicky Butt was sent off for a deliberate handball in the 70th minute and Luis Enrique converted the resultant penalty to level the scores.
At Camp Nou, Barcelona and United shared six goals once again in another thrilling encounter. Rivaldo and Dwight Yorke both scored braces while Anderson and Andy Cole also got on the scoresheet.
2008 Champions League semi-final
After not playing against each other for nearly 10 years, United and Barcelona battled it out for a place in the 2008 Champions League final.
Cristiano Ronaldo won a penalty kick inside the opening three minutes at Camp Nou but missed from the spot and the first leg ended in a goalless draw.
While Barcelona dominated possession for long periods at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes scored a stunning goal in the 14th minute and that proved to be enough to send the Red Devils into the Champions League final.
Barcelona to visit Old Trafford? 🤔
🎥 Cue Paul Scholes' iconic Champions League semi-final strike…#UEL | #UELdrawpic.twitter.com/kdXcAYLoCx
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 7, 2022
2009 Champions League final
After winning the competition in 2008, United reached the final again a year later and were bidding to become the first club to retain the Champions League title.
But Barcelona, who were now managed by Pep Guardiola and had already won La Liga and the Copa del Rey, stood in their way.
United started strongly but found themselves a goal down in the 10th minute as Samuel Eto’o steered the ball past Edwin van der Sar.
The Spanish giants then dominated proceedings at the Stadio Olimpico and Lionel Messi’s brilliant header in the 70th minute sealed their victory.
2011 Champions League final
United had revenge on their minds ahead of their meeting with Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley.
Despite being outplayed, United went in at half time level after Wayne Rooney scored a brilliant goal to cancel out Pedro’s 27th minute opener for the Catalans.
But Barcelona really turned on the style in the second half and Messi restored their lead in the 54th minute. David Villa then wrapped up the victory with a stunning strike in the 69th minute.
“They’re the best in Europe, no question about that,” Ferguson said after the game. “In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that.
“It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.”
📅 On this day in 2011…
The night Lionel Messi lit up Wembley 🔥
A superb goal as Barcelona saw off Manchester United in the Champions League final 🏆pic.twitter.com/aMT8JecERf
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 28, 2020
2019 Champions League quarter-final
After their comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last-16, United were then drawn against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side failed to have a single shot on target at Old Trafford and Luke Shaw’s own goal gave Barcelona a first-leg lead.
Messi had a quiet game at Old Trafford but was back to his best at Camp Nou and scored a brace inside the opening 20 minutes.
Former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho added a third for Barcelona in the 61st minute and United weren’t able to produce another comeback.
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