Man United carries burden of past failures in trip to Spain

The English side has won only 13 times in 50 matches against Spanish sides, and lost 17 times.

Manchester United will meet its 10th Spanish opponent in Sevilla when the two teams clash in the Champions League on Wednesday.   -  AP

Manchester United will play in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2014 when it travels to Spain to face Sevilla on Wednesday. Sevilla may not have the pedigree of a Real Madrid or a Barcelona in the competition but United will be wary of taking things lightly against the five-time UEFA Europa League winner.

A factor which may be weighing heavily on the English club is its poor record against Spanish teams. United has won only 13 times in 50 matches against Spanish sides, and lost 17 times.

Since the Champions League era began in 1992, United has faced Spanish sides on seven occasions in the knockout stages. From them, it has progressed only twice - against Deportivo la Coruna in the 2001-02 quarterfinal and Barcelona in the 2007-08 semifinal.

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United's away record in Spain makes for abysmal reading. In 15 matches, it has tasted victory only twice, while having drawn nine matches. The three-time Champions League winner has endured some painful nights while facing Spanish teams. The least memorable of them all would be the back-to-back defeats against a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona in the final of the Champions League in 2008 and in 2009.

Little success

United's record against Barca's arch-rival Real Madrid isn’t much better. In 10 Champions League matches against the 12-time winner, it has won only twice, losing and drawing on four occasions each. Its latest defeat to Los Blancos came in the UEFA Super Cup at the start of this season, where Casemiro's and Isco's goals sunk Jose Mourinho's side 2-1.

The Old Trafford outfit has been pit against Spanish opponents in the Europa League too. In the 2011-12 season, Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao outclassed United in both the legs of the Round-of-16 tie. Whereas, Mourinho's men held on till the end to see off Celta Vigo in the semifinal of last season's competition.

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Legendary manager Sir Matt Busy took charge of United's first ever encounter against a Spanish side in 1956-67 in the European Cup. It progressed into the last four stages of the tournament on the back of a 6-5 aggregate score against Bilbao after losing 5-3 in the first leg.

Interestingly, in what will be a first meeting between the two sides in the competition, Sevilla will be the 10th Spanish side United will face. So, when United takes the field at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, it will also have to defy its own history in its bid to qualify for the next round.

STATS - Manchester United vs Spanish teams
  • Matches played: 50
  • Wins: 13
  • Draws: 20
  • Losses: 17
  • GF/GA: 62/70
  • (numbers inclusive of European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners Cup, Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup)