Our event of the day is the Champions League quarter-final first leg between Manchester United and Barcelona at Old Trafford. After a historic comeback against the best team in France, Manchester United now face the best team in Spain. United are a talented team finding new life under new leadership while Barcelona are at the sharp of the competition year after year almost without fail. This is one match you won’t want to miss. At the start of the season, a quarter-final appearance in the Champions League seemed like a fantasy for Manchester United. Entering their third season under veteran manager Jose Mourinho, United began by winning only one of their six pre-season matches. That was followed by the worst start to a season for the club since the 1990-91 season. Before Mourinho left the club on December 16th, they had managed six wins, five draws and five losses in the league and also had a third round exit from the Caraboa Cup. Mourinho was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a legend at Old Trafford based on his playing career. Since then, United have reversed their fortunes in the league, winning eleven of their first fifteen under the Norwegian.
However, their first real challenge under new leadership came against PSG in the Champions League. Despite their best efforts, they suffered a 0-2 defeat at home, the first loss under Solskjær. While their winning ways in the league continued, the task of facing PSG in Paris with a two-goal deficit was daunting to say the least. In front of a crowd of 47,000 on a cool, wet March evening, United surprised the world by stunning the French giants in a 3-1 victory. Two goals from Romelu Lukaku put the aggregate score at 3-2 but a 90th minute penalty from Marcus Rashford gave United the win on away goals. This is the first time that a team has progressed in the knockout stages of the competition after facing a deficit of two or more goals after the first leg. However, they now face an even greater challenge in Barcelona. The Spanish legends are first in La Liga, clear of second by nine points. They are in the final of the Copa del Rey and breezed through the round of 16 in the Champions League, against Lyon. Interestingly four players, worth €347 million, along with the great Lionel Messi - who came through their youth system, have accounted for 88% of the team’s goals this season. United have beaten the odds once but the mountain is even higher this time around. Be sure you don’t miss this thrilling match.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NBA, where the Milwaukee Bucks host the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Fiserv Forum on the final day of the season. The Bucks are guaranteed the first seed in the East while the Thunder can potentially finish as the 6th seed in the West. It will be all down to their star duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George to secure an easier first round playoff match for the up and down team. It’s sure to be a memorable end to the NBA season. Elsewhere, in the MLB, the Kansas City Royals look to stymie a white-hot Seattle Mariners in the second game of their series at the Kauffman Stadium. On the WTA Tour, the Samsung Open continues in Lugano, Switzerland. In the Indian Premier League, the Mumbai Indians host the Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. In curling, the Players’ Championship continues at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto. The NHL Playoffs start tonight with the Vegas Golden Knights visit to San Jose to play the Sharks the pick of the games.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by UEFA
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