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How many times have Barcelona and Manchester United played each other? Who has won more games?

Barcelona take on Manchester United in the Europa League playoff round at Camp Nou on Thursday, which will be their 11th meeting.

Celebración de Lionel Messi durante la final de Champions League 2011.
Jasper JuinenGetty Images

Things are not going especially well for Barcelona off the pitch at the moment. It has been revealed by SER Catalunya and AS that they made a series of payments to José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice president of Spanish Soccer Federation’s Technical Committee of Referees, which they claim was to ensure refereeing “neutrality” but prosecution authorities believe was done to “obtain some kind of sporting advantage”. We’ll see how that story develops...

On the pitch, however, things are look much rosier. After years of struggle, Xavi Hernández has guided his team to the top of LaLiga, where they hold an eight-point advantage over arch-rivals Real Madrid, who closed the gap from 11 thanks to Wednesday’s win over Elche. Surely Barça won’t blow it…?

Winning the Champions League is always one of Barcelona’s main objectives but that won’t happen this season after their early elimination in December. Once again, they were a ‘crisis club’ in the making but the on-field success they’ve enjoyed since then has gone some way to reassuring fans. Now, Xavi’s men are gearing up for Thursday’s Europa League playoff round clash against Manchester United, a tie everybody wanted to see other than the two clubs in question.

The Red Devils are also a team on the up under Erik Ten Hag after an even longer period of decline, which has seen them fail to win a Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013. Now though, they find themselves just five points off top spot with 15 league games just to go. One FA Cup, one League Cup and one Europe League in 10 years is simply not good enough for a club of United’s stature but a league win this season and that would all be forgotten about.

Who was won more games between Barcelona and Manchester United?

Can we call Barcelona vs Manchester United a modern European classic? They are two of the biggest clubs in world soccer but 10 of their previous 13 encounters have taken place since the European Cup became the Champions League in 1992. Barça have had marginally the better of those 13 meetings overall, with five victories compared to the English club’s three. However, there will be fond memories for fans of both sides from those games. Here we pick out some of the most memorable ones.

Champions League finals, May 2009 and May 2011

The teams faced off in two Champions League finals in three seasons, in Rome and at Wembley. Two different matches but very much the same outcome as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona completely passed United off the park in both, although especially in London. Despite Wayne Rooney briefly equalising before half-time at Wembley, Ferguson’s side never laid a glove on their opponents: “In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that”, said the Scot.

Champions League semi-final, April 2008

United’s only victory so far but a vitally important one. Again, they hardly saw any of the ball in either of the two legs and the signs looked ominous when Cristiano Ronaldo missed a third-minute penalty in the first of them. Resolute defending prevented Barça from creating many opportunities and the tie was goalless ahead of the return leg at Old Trafford. Paul Scholes’ superb early goal in Manchester gave the Red Devils something to hang onto and they just about did enough to keep the door shut under severe pressure. United went on to defeat Chelsea in the final in a penalty shootout.

Champions League group stage, 1998-99

Coincidentally, United also played Barcelona twice in their other Champions League-winning campaign. The sides served up a couple of all-time group stage classics in a ‘group of death’ also containing eventual finalists Bayern Munich. Barça came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford thanks to two second-half penalties, while the teams also shared six goals at Camp Nou a few weeks later in a match that was memorable for Rivaldo’s overhead kick and Andy Cole’s brilliantly-worked goal with strike partner Dwight Yorke. Barcelona failed to make it out of the group but United would be back in Catalonia for the most dramatic ending to a Champions League final we’ve ever seen.

Cup Winners’ Cup final, May 1991

A first European trophy for Manchester United since their European Cup victory over Benfica in 1968. Mark Hughes scored twice in a 2-1 victory against his former club in Rotterdam, making it two trophies in as many seasons for Ferguson after a slow start to his career at Old Trafford. Would the Reds have gone on to dominate English soccer in the manner that they did without those initial triumphs? We’ll never know.

Barcelona vs Manchester United: previous meetings

  • April 2019: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United, Champions League quarter-final, second leg
  • April 2019: Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona, Champions League quarter-final, first leg
  • May 2011: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United, Champions League final
  • May 2009: Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United, Champions League final
  • April 2008: Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona, Champions League semi-final, second leg
  • April 2008: Barcelona 0-0 Manchester United, Champions League semi-final, first leg
  • November 1998: Barcelona 3-3 Manchester United, Champions League group stage
  • September 1998: Manchester United 3-3 Barcelona, Champions League group stage
  • November 1994: Barcelona 4-0 Manchester United, Champions League group stage
  • October 1994: Manchester United 2-2 Barcelona, Champions League group stage
  • May 1991: Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona, Cup Winners' Cup final
  • March 1984: Manchester United 3-0 Barcelona, Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final, second leg
  • March 1984: Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United, Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final, first leg

Who has won more European trophies, Barcelona or Manchester United?

Can we say that Manchester United have underachieved in Europe? Given that the English press will often tell you they’re the “biggest club in the world”, I think we probably can. United are just the seventh most successful club in the history of Champions League/European Cup; Ferguson himself has claimed in the past that they “should’ve won it more”. The Red Devils sit alongside Porto and Sevilla on seven European trophies, while they are behind likes of Chelsea, Inter, Atlético Madrid and Ajax.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have won double the number of European trophies with 14, although five of those are European Super Cup victories. Another five of those are, of course, Champions League victories but they have never won the UEFA Cup/Europa League, which United did for the first time under Jose Mourinho in 2017.


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