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Manchester United v Barcelona classic games

Barcelona meeting Manchester United in Europe means another entry into their string of classic ties.

2011 final highlights: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

If history tells us nothing else, it is that when Manchester United and Barcelona meet in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final, something memorable will happen.

Naturally when two such big clubs go head to head, the stakes are significant, and that has been the case in their 11 previous UEFA competition showdowns – including three one-off finals, two home-and-away knockout ties and four group games. Here's the story of their European encounters.

2011 final (Wembley): Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United
The teams' last competitive meeting, also Edwin van der Sar's career adieu, was perhaps Pep Guardiola's Barcelona's pinnacle: his front three of Pedro Rodríguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa all scored as Barça won the shot-count 19-4 (or 12-1 on target). Emotional scenes followed in the Royal Box when Éric Abidal, two months after surgery to remove a liver tumour, lifted the trophy. Messi, Busquets and United old boy Gerard Piqué could feature this time too.

2009 final (Rome): Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United
Two years earlier at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Messi was again a scorer, settling the contest late on after Samuel Eto'o's early opener. Guardiola's Barcelona were not quite as dominant as they would be at Wembley but they still outplayed the holders in the only final to date where Messi has faced Cristiano Ronaldo (something that could change this term).

2007/08 semi-final: Barcelona 0-1agg Manchester United (0-0, 0-1)
In the sides' most recent two-legged tie, eventual champions United emerged victorious thanks to a Paul Scholes goal 14 minutes into the Old Trafford return. Ronaldo had missed an early penalty at Camp Nou (with Piqué an unused United sub) while Messi's appearances in both legs were the first of his five against the Red Devils in Europe.

United's 1999 Camp Nou glory

1998/99 group stage: Manchester United 3-3 Barcelona, Barcelona 3-3 Manchester United
The season was to end with United stunning Bayern at Camp Nou but they had an earlier double date with Barcelona. At Old Trafford, United led 2-0 then 3-2 only to draw, and they also took 2-1 and 3-2 leads at Camp Nou with Rivaldo equalising twice. Even so, the result was not enough for Barça, who failed to reach the knockout phase.

1994/95 group stage: Manchester United 2-2 Barcelona, Barcelona 4-0 Manchester United
At Old Trafford, Lee Sharpe's strike ten minutes from time secured a 2-2 draw in a game where Mark Hughes scored against his former club. With Eric Cantona suspended, and Gary Walsh deputising for Peter Schmeichel due to the then competition limit of three foreign players per team, United were blown away in the sequel in front of what remains a record group-stage crowd of 114,273.

United celebrate their 1991 win against Barcelona
United celebrate their 1991 win against Barcelona©Getty Images

1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final (Rotterdam): Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona
In the first season after the five-year European ban on English clubs, United got to a final and claimed the trophy courtesy of two goals from ex-Azulgrana Hughes, despite Ronaldo Koeman reducing arrears from a free-kick. It was United's only European Cup Winners' Cup final, while Barcelona would win a record four of an unmatched six appearances in the decider.

1983/84 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final: Barcelona 2-3agg Manchester United (2-0, 0-3)
Barcelona, starring Diego Maradona, did not make the 1984 final despite winning the first leg against United 2-0. At Old Trafford, Bryan Robson struck on 23 and 50 minutes, his second quickly followed by what proved a clincher from Frank Stapleton. Hughes played in both legs against his future employers.