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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL Preview: Manchester Utd look to 'Barcelona win' for inspiration

CL Preview: Manchester Utd look to 'Barcelona win' for inspiration

Last updated on: March 19, 2014 16:06 IST

CL Preview: Manchester United look to 'Barcelona win' for inspiration

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Manchester United face Olympiakos trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their round of 16 Champions League match.

They also found themselves two goals down to Barcelona on the night of March 21, 1984 when they overturned a two-goal deficit in European competition for the last time.

A famous win over Barcelona 30 years ago this week could inspire Manchester United to a comeback victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday.

United face Olympiakos trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their round of 16 match when goals from Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell gave the Greek champions their first win over United in five meetings.

United also found themselves two goals down to Barcelona on the night of March 21, 1984 when they overturned a two-goal deficit in European competition for the last time.

The 3-0 win over Barcelona has been voted in official club polls as the third greatest occasion in Old Trafford's history and the sixth best United game of all time.


Image: From left, Manchester United's Robin Van Persie, manager David Moyes and Ryan Giggs laugh as Darren Fletcher jumps for the ball during a training session
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

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United can emulate the famous win over Barca

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Two goals from captain Bryan Robson and one from Frank Stapleton gave United victory over a Barca side including great Argentine forward Diego Maradona who was powerless to stop United's fightback.

Manager David Moyes said on Tuesday he hoped his team can emulate that famous success.

"It has only happened twice before that United have come from two down to win and the last time was the Barcelona game in 1984. Let's hope we can that again tomorrow," he told reporters.

An eight-page special report in the club's Inside United magazine recalls the match as "the night under the Old Trafford floodlights when the ear-splitting, turf-shaking tie turned in United's favour."


Image: Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United in action during a training session
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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'That night was the best atmosphere I experienced'

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Robson recalled the game.

"That night was the best atmosphere I experienced during my 13 years as a player here," he said. "You could feel the pitch shaking."

Robson felt personally responsible for spurning two gilt-edged chances in the first leg at the Nou Camp and was determined to put matters right at Old Trafford. It took him just 22 minutes to live up to his pre-match promise.

He opened the scoring after a Ray Wilkins corner was flicked on by Graeme Hogg for Robson to launch himself forwards and score with a diving header.


Image: Captain Bryan Robson (left) of Manchester United shakes hands with Barcelona captain Diego Maradona before the European Cup Winners Cup Quarter-Final Second Leg match between Manchester United and Barcelona held on March 21, 1984 at Old Trafford, in Manchester
Photographs: Trevor Jones/Getty Images

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Robson squared the tie

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Barcelona goalkeeper Javier Urrutiocoechea was unusually hesitant throughout and his mistake for the second after 52 minutes allowed Robson to score his second and square the tie.

Two minutes later Stapleton volleyed in the third before Barcelona suddenly came to life but failed to score in a frantic assault on the United goal that lasted almost 40 minutes and produced only one real chance for Bernd Schuster who curled a shot wide.

"The problem was we took the third goal too early," United manager Ron Atkinson said.

"It's a pity we couldn't have got it in the 86th minute but that's what European football is really all about."

Robson was carried off shoulder-high at the end by delirious United fans but that was as good as it got for them in Europe that season.

A few weeks later Juventus came to Old Trafford and left with a 1-1 draw before winning the second leg 2-1 in Turin.


Image: Bryan Robson of Manchester United scores his second goal during the European Cup Winners Cup Quarter-Final Second Leg match against Barcelona held on March 21, 1984 at Old Trafford
Photographs: Trevor Jones/Getty Images

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United focused on planning for the long-term

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Manchester United manager David Moyes was in defiant mood on the eve of Wednesday's Champions League match against Olympiakos, denying his job was under threat and saying he had the full backing of the club's board.

He also said United were focused on planning for the long-term and not worrying about the period of transition they are in following the retirement of Alex Ferguson after 26 years in charge.

The struggling Premier League champions must overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg of their round of 16 game in Greece to keep alive their last remaining hope of lifting a trophy this season.


Image: Manchester United's manager David Moyes, right, is challenged by Wayne Rooney
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

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'My future has not changed one bit'

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The demoralising 3-0 home Premier League defeat by Liverpool on Sunday increased the pressure on Moyes who has endured a troubled start to his United reign after replacing Ferguson last year.

"My future has not changed one bit," Moyes told a news conference on Tuesday. "I have got a great job and know exactly the direction I want to go in.

"It has not been the season we wanted but I have ideas I want to put in place and the most important thing is Olympiakos.

"If we can go through it would be a massive lift. We know we have got ourselves in a poor position being 2-0 down.

"The biggest assurance is the club will let me get on with the job. I have a six-year contract. This club does not work on a short-term vision, it works on a long-term vision.

"The support inside Old Trafford has been phenomenal. Sir Alex has been incredibly supportive, so has (director) David Gill and the board.

"Sir Alex told me it was going to be a very difficult job but he is always there to help."


Image: Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie of Manchester United in action during a training session
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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'We will leave nothing behind'

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United go into the match following a poor performance against Liverpool and could easily have lost to their bitter rivals by a bigger margin.

Moyes attempted to put matters into perspective.

"I think Manchester United is the biggest club in the world, it might not feel like that today, but this club has had great success in the past and will do again in the future," he said.

"It will rise again."

Moyes accepted the players need to give something back to the suffering fans.

"The first thing I mentioned to the players is we need to start giving something back. We need to work together to make it a night to be remembered. We will leave nothing behind."


Image: David Moyes of Manchester United jokes with his players during a training session
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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'We let the storm pass'

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United defender Patrice Evra said that he would take inspiration from the recent World Cup playoffs when his France side overturned a first leg 2-0 loss to Ukraine to win the second leg 3-0 and qualify for the finals in Brazil.

"We let the storm pass," Evra said.

"It was a difficult day after the game, we didn't expect to lose 2-0 in Ukraine but after two days everyone was focused. We stood together, we played for the people who love us, our families, the fans and we give everything. Like the manager says, it is really important we score early.

"When you come to Old Trafford and you concede an early goal, it is difficult."


Image: Patrice Evra of Manchester United tries to keep the ball in play
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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