United were drawn against the five-times winners in the last eight and were originally supposed to play the second leg at Old Trafford after visiting the Camp Nou first.
But as Manchester City, who have a higher UEFA ranking, were also drawn at home second against Tottenham, United’s tie was switched and they must now host Barcelona first.
And that could be a problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side as it has been shown to be an advantage to play the second leg on your own ground.
Since the Champions League adopted its current format in 2003/04, 62 per cent of teams advancing from the quarter-finals were at home in the second leg.
United have taken advantage of the Old Trafford factor on three out of the four occasions they have played the second leg of last-eight ties there.
In 2006/07 they overturned a first-leg deficit against Roma by thumping the Italians 7-1, while the following season they were able to get the job done against the same opponents after bringing back a slender lead.
In 2010/11, they protected a 1-0 first-leg win at Chelsea with a 2-1 success at Old Trafford.
The only time they have been at home second in this round and not qualified was in the 2009/10 season when they lost on away goals to Bayern Munich, despite winning in front of their home fans.
Solskjaer’s men will be channelling the last round, when they beat Paris Saint-Germain despite a first-leg defeat at home, and also the 2008/09 season when they advanced past Porto despite having to play there in the second match.
To make matters worse, Barca have a formidable record in quarter-finals when they play the second leg at the Camp Nou.
They have progressed six out of seven times, with the defeat to Juventus in 2016/17 their only blemish.
United’s potential suffering is City’s gain, though they have progressed in just one of their previous two quarter-finals, against PSG in 2016/17.
Tottenham will be hoping their brilliant new stadium will help give them a significant first-leg advantage to take to City as they try to buck the trend.
Their only previous quarter-final ended in a comprehensive defeat to Real Madrid, having had to play the second leg at the Bernabeu.
Liverpool are also away in their second leg against Porto, but they will fancy their chances of going against the grain.
Both in 2005 and 2018 on their way to the Champions League final they progressed through the quarter-finals despite playing their first leg at home.
They got the better of Juventus after a 2-1 win at Anfield in the first game while a 3-0 hammering of Manchester City was enough to see them through last season.
The overall record in all knockout rounds – the round of 16, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals – strengthens the theory that it is an advantage to be at home in the second leg, with 63 per cent of the winners having had that luxury.
That is, of course, weighted by the fact that in the round of 16, teams who top the group are ensured a second leg at home against a second-placed opponent from another group.
Therefore, in theory, stronger teams play at home last and would be expected to advance – and more than 70 per cent have done so.
The semi-finals provide an interesting exception to the overall trend, with only 37 per cent of teams with a second leg at home progressing.
The draw for the Champions League quarter-final has thrown up some tantalising ties, as the remaining eight clubs plot their way to club football’s ultimate glory.
Here’s a closer look at all four quarter-final match-ups.
Tottenham v Man City
There was bound to be one all-English tie, and though this one is slightly less glamorous than a Manchester derby, or either Manchester team facing Liverpool, there’s plenty of intrigue for Tottenham v Manchester City as well.
The biggest talking point will be the opening of Spurs’ new stadium. They’ll have played one game before they host City, but that will be against either Brighton or Crystal Palace.
There’s no doubt that this is going to be the marquee fixture for the new White Hart Lane during the stadium’s infancy, with no home game against a rival or Big Six side scheduled otherwise. The atmosphere for the first leg of this tie should be fantastic.
City are favourites, no doubt, though they’ve had their struggles with Tottenham at times in recent years. Spurs’ blend of physicality, aggression, and intense pressing has the capability of knocking Pep Guardiola’s team off their stride, though they’ll have to be at their absolute best to stand a chance. This is the second-straight season City are facing an English side in the quarter-finals, and memories of being knocked out by Liverpool last season will still rankle.
City and Spurs will actually play each other three times in ten days, as there’s a Premier League fixture at Etihad Stadium right after the two Champions League games. These two teams are about to get to know each other very well.
⚪️ @SpursOfficial will now play @ManCity 3 times in 10 days.— SPORF (@Sporf) March 15, 2019
📅 9/10 April
📅 16/17 April
📅 20 April
😳 Season defining. pic.twitter.com/WxWlFw3GsC
Prediction: Manchester City
Liverpool v Porto
This is a rematch of last year’s round-of-16 tie, and if those fixtures are any indication, Liverpool will be fancying their chances.
Porto were being considered the “easy” team in the quarter-final draw, and given the Reds beat them 5-0 in Lisbon last year before playing out a 0-0 draw at home to advance, Jurgen Klopp’s side are probably happy with the way the draw’s turned out.
But there shouldn’t be any complacency. Porto look a different side this season, and the way they came back against Roma in the last round – albeit a Roma that has hardly resembled the team that made last season’s semi-finals – was impressive.
There is more resilience, with former Real Madrid defender Pepe anchoring a back line that is unlikely to get turned over as easily.
And if Liverpool players and fans were annoyed with Sergio Ramos after last year’s final, Pepe, the Madrid captain’s former partner-in-crime, has the ability to be even more of a nuisance. This is a tie that could get spicy.
Liverpool have never lost to Porto in a competitive fixture:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 15, 2019
• 3 wins
• 3 draws
• 0 losses
They beat them 5-0 last season. pic.twitter.com/WPRUGnDuD4
Ajax v Juventus
Ajax’s reward for their stunning demolition of Real Madrid is to face another side of equally daunting pedigree.
Juventus pulled off a famous comeback of their own in the round of 16, and a team that can beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 is not one that will be afraid of Erik ten Hag’s young, vibrant side.
Of course, the same holds true for Ajax, who are probably ready to take on anyone after the way they dispatched Madrid, beating the reigning champions 4-1 on their own patch. Juventus are not a team in disarray the way Madrid were, but they’ll be treating Ajax with a healthy respect knowing what they can do to a favoured side.
There are plenty of subplots – this face-off of two of Europe’s most storied sides is a rematch of the 1996 Champions League final, which Juventus won, while young Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, considered one of the best young defenders in football, will relish going up against grizzled veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci on the other side.
And of course, there’s Cristiano Ronaldo and the possibility he can avenge former club Madrid’s defeat, though that is unlikely to be a prime motivation. More importantly, there’s that fourth straight Champions League title to win for himself, and a first one this century for his new club.
Frenkie de Jong, Ajax midfielder: "When I was around 10–12 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo was already one of the best players in the world. So it is nice that I will now face him for real."#UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/6ckkmTeAlv— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 15, 2019
Manchester United v Barcelona
If Ajax going from beating Madrid to facing Juventus seems like bad luck, Manchester United can be forgiven for feeling the same way.
Of course, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United feel they can beat anyone. Barca are one of the favourites to win the competition, but they’ve also lost at the quarter-final stage in three-straight seasons, all in ties they were expected to win.
United will believe they can join Atletico Madrid, Juventus, and Roma in that list of sides to knock Barcelona out.
The second leg will be special for Solskjaer personally, as he returns to the scene of the moment that made him a United legend: his winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, scored at Camp Nou against Bayern Munich.
If he can bottle some of the spirit and stardust of that famous night, Barcelona will have to be wary of an upset. In the meantime, Messi can look forward to only his second appearance at Old Trafford, though of course, he has plenty of experience of hurting United: Barcelona beat the Manchester club in both the 2009 and 2011 finals, with Messi the star on both occasions.
"We want these games against the biggest clubs and the biggest teams," says Ole. "We had the final against them in 2009 and 2011 and the semi-final in 2008 when Scholesy scored, it’s these games our fans and this club crave. We are looking forward to this one." #MUFC #UCLdraw— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 15, 2019
Tottenham and Manchester City will face each other in an all-English quarter-final of the Champions League next month.
Last year’s beaten finalists Liverpool received arguably the most favourable draw after being paired with Porto, while Manchester United face a daunting tie against Barcelona.
United and Liverpool will meet in the semi-finals if they reach the last four, with Tottenham or City facing the winner of the quarter-final between Ajax and Juventus.
The first legs of the quarter-finals will take place on April 9 and 10, with the second legs on April 16 and 17.
City won both of their Premier League ties with Tottenham last season and also beat Mauricio Pochettino’s side at Wembley earlier in this campaign. The two teams meet again in the league just days after the second leg, on April 20.
United’s tie against Barcelona means caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will enjoy another trip to the Camp Nou, where he scored the winner in United’s Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in 1999.
United were drawn as the away team for the first leg but the tie had to be reversed, as UEFA had stipulated in advance following advice from local authorities that they and City could not play at home on successive nights.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was delighted by the draw, telling Sky Sports News: “I’d prefer being at home for the second leg but I’m extremely happy.
“Let’s not disrespect Porto because they got to this stage for a reason, but they won’t be looking forward to that tie.”
Former City boss Stuart Pearce added: “I think Liverpool have gone as favourites now for the competition, being that side of the draw.”
Speaking about United’s tie with Barcelona, former Old Trafford boss David Moyes said: “It’s an incredibly tough draw but a great draw. After beating Paris Saint-Germain you can take anybody on.
“A great occasion, the sort of games that Manchester United are used to and it will be a great night.”