Video of the Day: Manchester United vs Barcelona, March 1984
Manchester United travel to Denmark to play FC Midtjylland in the Europa League this evening. Whilst many may be looking forward to having a run in a different competition without the perils of having to play the likes of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, there will doubtlessly also be some United supporters who would happily jettison their involvement with this year’s competition in order to focus on their increasingly uphill battle to maintain their Champions League place for next season. A win will be the very minimum expectation for supporters wearied by a season that still hasn’t quite got out of second gear.
There were many years, however, when the European Cup was beyond the club’s reach. Manchester United may have won the competition in 1968, but by 1984 they’d only appeared in it once since then, and that was the following year as the holders of the competition. Winning the FA Cup in 1983 against Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley did, however bring European football to Old Trafford the following season in the form of the European Cup Winners Cup, and by March of 1984 Ron Atkinson’s team had made it through to quarter finals of the competition, where they were drawn to play Barcelona, after having beaten Dukla Prague (on away goals) and Spartak Varna of Bulgaria in previous rounds.
United travelled to Catalonia for the first leg and lost by two goals to nil in the Camp Nou, in front of a crowd of 94,000 people. With this deficit to have to claw back and having not brought any away goals back with them, overturning this defeat would be a very tall order indeed. What followed, however, was a night to rank amongst any of those Champions League nights as one of the great European nights that Old Trafford has ever seen. The team’s run in this year’s competition, however, would come to an end in the next round, with a heartbreakingly narrow and late defeat at the hands of Juventus. Commentary for the Barcelona match comes from a young(ish) Martin Tyler.
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