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Barça primed as United return to Camp Nou

Manchester United FC return to Camp Nou for the first time since their 1999 triumph hoping this visit will serve as a stepping stone to another final appearance.

Ryan Giggs, still going strong for United now, in action against Barcelona in the 1998/99 group stage
Ryan Giggs, still going strong for United now, in action against Barcelona in the 1998/99 group stage ©Getty Images

Manchester United FC return to the Camp Nou for the first time since their 1999 UEFA Champions League triumph hoping this latest visit will serve as a stepping stone to another final appearance.

• United collected their second European Champion Clubs' Cup – to add to the one won by Sir Matt Busby's side in 1968 – when they came from behind to beat FC Bayern München 2-1 on a remarkable night in Catalonia on 26 May 1999.

• Before they can start dreaming of a historic first all-English final against Liverpool FC or Chelsea FC in Moscow, they must first get the better of FC Barcelona. Boasting an unbeaten record to match United's, Barcelona have their sights set on a third European Cup of their own – as well as a considerably better record at this stage of the competition.

• Barcelona have won four of the eight previous semi-finals they have contested – those successes coming in 1960/61, 1985/86, 1993/94 and 2005/06 – in addition to advancing to the 1991/92 final as winners of their last-eight group.

• By contrast, United's nine preceding semi-final appearances have brought just two victories and they will need no reminding of their last-four fate 12 months ago when they surrendered a 3-2 first-leg lead in a 3-0 loss at AC Milan.

• Barcelona overcame FC Schalke 04 to reach the last four. Bojan Krkić's 12th-minute goal secured a 1-0 away victory in the first leg and they won the second leg by the same score thanks to a 43rd-minute Yaya Touré effort.

• Frank Rijkaard's men had previously defeated Celtic FC in the first knockout round – winning 3-2 away, then 1-0 at home – after topping Group E with a record of four victories and two draws.

• Barcelona's home form has been faultless in this campaign, with five successive wins and a goal difference of 10-1.

• United progressed to the semi-finals with a 3-0 aggregate success against AS Roma. Cristiano Ronaldo (39) and Wayne Rooney (66) were on target to deliver a 2-0 first-leg triumph in Rome before Carlos Tévez's 70th-minute header ended any lingering doubts at Old Trafford.

• United began the campaign by winning Group F with a record of W5 D1 L0 and then defeated Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 on aggregate in the last 16.

• The Premier League leaders are unbeaten on their travels in Europe this season, having earned three victories and two draws.

• Barcelona's home record against English opposition is impressive, with 13 wins, eight draws and just two losses from 23 previous meetings.

• Both those defeats came against Liverpool: a 1-0 reverse in the 1975/76 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg, setting up a 2-1 aggregate loss, and then a 2-1 defeat in the 2006/07 first knockout round, which ultimately served to eliminate the Blaugrana on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

• Last season's exit at Liverpool’s hands means the Spanish club have won seven and lost eight of 15 two-legged contests against English opponents.

• Moreover, Barcelona have won only one of four previous semi-finals against English teams in UEFA club competition:
1974/75 European Cup, Leeds United AFC 2-3 (aggregate)
1975/76 UEFA Cup, Liverpool 1-2
1981/82 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, Tottenham Hotspur FC 2-1
2000/01 UEFA Cup, Liverpool 0-1

• United have played 16 times in Spain against Spanish sides, with just one win recorded alongside six draws and nine defeats. That solitary success came at RC Deportivo La Coruña in the quarter-finals of the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League thanks to goals from David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

• United have registered four wins and five defeats in nine previous two-legged ties against Spanish opposition. 

• This is the Old Trafford club's third semi-final against a Spanish team and on the two preceding occasions Real Madrid CF were the opposition. United went down 5-3 on aggregate against Madrid in the 1956/57 European Cup, then gained revenge with a 4-3 triumph en route to winning the 1967/68 competition.

• Barcelona and United have met seven times before, with both sides claiming two victories apiece.

• United have fond memories of the clubs' first encounter, in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals, where they overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-0 home success courtesy of goals from Bryan Robson (2) and Frank Stapleton.

• The English outfit prevailed again in the 1991 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam, winning 2-1 to give Sir Alex Ferguson his first European trophy as United manager. Mark Hughes was the hero with two second-half goals before Ronald Koeman's reply ensured a tense finish on a night where Brian McClair and Mike Phelan – both coaches at Old Trafford today – and Aitor 'Txiki' Beguiristain, Barcelona's technical director, all featured in the action.

• Barcelona handed United a football lesson when the teams first met in the UEFA Champions League in the 1994/95 group stage. After a 2-2 draw in Manchester – where Paul Scholes made his European debut as a 67th-minute substitute – the Spanish side won 4-0 at the Camp Nou through goals from Hristo Stoitchkov (2), Romário and Albert Ferrer. Ryan Giggs played for 79 minutes of the match before being replaced by Scholes.

• The teams played out two thrilling 3-3 draws in the 1998/99 group stage, which ended with United pipping Barcelona to second place behind Bayern by two points. There are no survivors from that Barcelona side but Giggs and Scholes scored the opening two goals of the September 1998 game at Old Trafford, while Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Scholes all figured in the return at the Camp Nou two months later. 

• Sir Alex took his players back to Barcelona for the final that season where they came back from the dead to beat Bayern 2-1 with injury-time goals from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

• The United lineup that evening was:
Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville, Denis Irwin, Ronny Johnson, Jaap Stam, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Jesper Blomqvist (Teddy Sheringham 67), Dwight Yorke, Andrew Cole (Ole Gunnar Solskjær 81).

• Also present at the Camp Nou was United midfielder Owen Hargreaves who, as a youth-team player with Bayern, had flown over from Munich with his team-mates to cheer on the German side.

• United defender Gerard Piqué spent seven years in Barcelona's youth system before leaving to join United in 2004, and counted Lionel Messi among his contemporaries.

• Barcelona forward Thierry Henry enjoyed eight years with United's Premier League rivals Arsenal FC (1999-2007) and scored nine goals in 18 appearances against the Old Trafford outfit – the last of them a 90th-minute winner when the Gunners came from behind to beat United 2-1 in London in January 2007. Sylvinho (Arsenal, 1999-2001) and Eidur Gudjohnsen (Chelsea FC, 2000-2006) also know all about United from their time in England.

• Henry was in the AS Monaco FC team that overcame United on away goals in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in 1997/98.