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Spanish journalist confirms nine Barcelona starters, two places undecided



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Credit: IMAGO / PA Images

Manchester United will welcome Barcelona to Old Trafford on Thursday evening, with the second leg of their Europa League tie being a hotly anticipated event.

The first leg of the fixture saw Manchester United leave Barcelona with a 2-2 draw, with many happy with the performance Erik ten Hag‘s men showed at Camp Nou.

It was Marcus Rashford who stood out for United, scoring one and creating another after Marcos Alonso’s second-half header handed Xavi’s men a lead.

It was Raphinha who sealed the draw, with his cross evading all and finding itself in the back of David de Gea’s net – and the Brazilian is set to start at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.

Read More: Full Manchester United team news ahead of Barcelona clash

This is according to Spanish journalist Javi Miguel, who has claimed that nine of Barcelona’s starting XI for the tie have already been established – and that there are two more positions that are yet to be decided on.

There are some obvious names starting for Xavi’s men tonight: Robert Lewandowski will start up front, with Marc-André ter Stegen on the opposite end of the field in goal.

It is said that Sergio Busquets will return to the starting XI in midfield after missing the first leg through injury, partnered with his fellow midfielder and Ivorian international, Franck Kessié.

To the surprise of many Barcelona fans, Marcos Alonso started as centre-back for the first leg of the tie, with Andreas Christensen, a former Chelsea player, relegated to the bench. For the Old Trafford instalment, however, he has been reintroduced into the team, joined in defence by Ronald Araújo and Jules Koundé.

It was Koundé who turned Marcus Rashford’s cross into his own net for United’s second goal.

Another name that is set to start at Old Trafford is Frenkie de Jong. De Jong also started in the first leg, and a recent video went viral on Wednesday evening as he was spotted looking around Old Trafford, seemingly in awe of the ground.

The two players who are reportedly yet to be chosen to start are one player to finalise the attack and one who will join in the defensive line.

Many speculate that young left-back Alejandro Balde will be the fourth man to make up Barcelona’s defensive line, with the 19-year-old being very highly rated among the circles familiar with his game.

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There is, however, the prospect of Jordi Alba starting in the position too, after the Spaniard had a great first half against United last week – much of Barcelona’s first-half dominance flowed through the 33-year-old.

The other position, most likely to be left wing with Raphinha covering the right, is also seemingly up for grabs. Manchester United could see the return of a familiar face from across the city in Ferran Torres, who once played for Manchester City.

Another who could start is Sergi Roberto, with it being claimed that Xavi tested his XI with Roberto and Balde as potential starters for the tie. Ansu Fati is also an option for Xavi in the winger position.

Erik ten Hag is expected to field an incredibly strong line-up, boosted by the return of Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer, who were both suspended for the first leg due to yellow card accumulation.