Aston Villa v Man Utd: Pictures
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The Europa League play-off draw has provided Cristiano Ronaldo with the chance to finally score against Barcelona for Manchester United. The forward was a constant threat for Real Madrid when playing the Nou Camp outfit, but not for United.
Following Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League, they are one of the favourites to now succeed in the Europa League. However, they come up against United – who also have hopes of winning their first trophy under Erik ten Hag.
The talk in the build-up to the match will largely centre around Frenkie de Jong after the Barca star rejected the chance to join United over the summer – despite the best wishes of both clubs involved in the move.
However, the underlying storyline will be how Ronaldo can break his duck against Barcelona whilst wearing a United shirt. The Portugal forward lined up against the Catalan club three times during his first stint with the Red Devils but failed to find the back of the net – though that was the case overall as United failed to score in all three matches.
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Ronaldo was a constant nuisance for Barca when he moved to Real Madrid though, also scoring twice against them for Juventus more recently. The 37-year-old has 20 goals in 34 appearances against the club and will be hoping to add to that tally in the Europa League.
United have struggled to keep Ronaldo happy so far this season after his desire to leave over the summer, with Ten Hag consistently having to publicly defend his forward. The manager attempted to show that he has rebuilt bridges with the forward against Aston Villa by handing him the captain’s armband – though he did imply that he was the fourth choice for the role.
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Speaking about the decision, which ended in a 3-1 defeat, he said: “Harry Maguire is on the bench, our captain of the club. hen it is about David de Gea who is a leader but is a goalie and is far away from the outfield. Then Casemiro is the leader but he is not speaking perfect English so then Cristiano is the leader.”
Ronaldo’s contract at United expires at the end of the season and it is hard to imagine he will extend his stay at the club beyond that unless there is a drastic turn of events. Perhaps, winning a trophy would be that, sparked by a victory over Barca in the Europa League.
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