Man United have been warned about Barcelona’s ‘surprising’ new tactic ahead of Europa League meeting

Man United have been warned about Barcelona's 'surprising' new tactic ahead of Europa League meeting

Manchester United have been warned about Barcelona’s ‘surprising’ tactic ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash.

The two giants of European football have been paired against one another in a mouthwatering two-legged play-off clash.

The Nou Camp plays host to the first leg this week, with United travelling to the iconic stadium where they won the 1999 Champions League final in the most dramatic circumstances.

Barca and United have met in many classic encounters in the Champions League and although the upcoming meeting is being played in UEFA’s secondary club competition, it promises to be a cracker.

Although Barca failed to get out of the Champions League group stages, they are flying in La Liga, where they have lost just once and sit 11 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid.

And Villarreal boss Quique Setien, who managed the Blaugrana in 2020, claims they have a new deadly trait.

“There is something that this Barcelona team has changed a lot, which is without the ball,” he said, as per Mundo Deportivo.

“The data is there, Barcelona are the team that runs the most without the ball.

“Seems surprising, doesn’t it?”

Setien was speaking after Barca beat his Villarreal side 1-0 away from home in El Madrigal on Sunday, with Pedri scoring the only goal of the game in the first half.

The Spanish wonderkid, along with compatriot Gavi, have been a key part of Barca’s resurgence under Xavi – bringing energy and technical ability to the table.

Barca’s traditional principles are well known but they are now placing a great emphasis on distance covered and not giving their opponents a moment to breathe.

After the win over Villarreal, Xavi said striker Robert Lewandowski is the “first defender” in his team and that is something United will have to be aware of.

There is a big blow for Barca however as captain and midfield metronome Sergio Busquets has been ruled out with an ankle injury picked up against Sevilla.

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