The second match between Manchester United and Barcelona was called “titanic” by the Spanish newspapers

‘The match of truth!’: Spanish sports papers ramp up excitement ahead of ‘titanium’ second leg between Manchester United and Barcelona… with Marcus Rashford and Robert Lewandowski deciding a delicate Europa League tie

After last week’s thrilling first leg, Manchester United and Barcelona meet again at Old Trafford with everything to play for in the Europa League play-offs.

The tie is shaping up well at 2-2 after a brutal game at the Nou Camp in which both teams had more than enough chances to win.

Predictably, Spanish sports papers are raising expectations ahead of Thursday night’s second leg, describing the game as “titanium” and “a moment of truth” for Barcelona.

Mundo Deportivo features United striker Marcus Rashford and Barca top scorer Robert Lewandowski, as well as a large corner flag.

The “Titanic” describes the match, saying that Barca are ready to “attack the legendary Old Trafford to stay alive in the Europa League”.

'Titanic' is how Mundo Deportivo are billing Manchester United's second leg against Barcelona on Thursday night, with the Europa League play-off tie shaping up nicely at 2-2.

‘Titanic’ is how Mundo Deportivo are billing Manchester United’s second leg against Barcelona on Thursday night, with the Europa League play-off tie shaping up nicely at 2-2.

“The match of truth” says Sport as Barcelona try to restore some prestige in Europe

Mundo points out that the Spanish league leaders will be without Pedri, Gavi and Ousmane Dembele due to injuries and suspensions for a crucial game in their season.

Coach Xavi reportedly predicts “the first few minutes will be key” as he gave no details on his squad selection for the blockbuster.

“The match of truth” is how Diario Sport billed the game on Thursday’s cover, showing Barcelona players – notably United transfer target Frenkie de Jong – celebrating in front of the Old Trafford backdrop.

It’s sure to be a defining game of the season – comfortably eight points clear of rivals Real Madrid at the top of the league, Barca remain hurt by their soft exit from the Champions League earlier in the season and are looking to atone in the Europa League.

Sport say Barca are “willing to restore prestige in Europe” in a “very open tie”.

They also quoted Xavi on the eve of the match as saying: “This is a great opportunity for us to show that we can compete with a major international opponent.”

Lionel Messi has also been mentioned amid endless rumors that he could return to the Nou Camp from Paris Saint-Germain.

Asked about that possibility, Xavi said on Wednesday: “I’ve said it more than once, the doors are always open for him. He is a friend and we are in constant contact.

Marcus Rashford and Robert Lewandowski star in the headlines

Marcus Rashford and Robert Lewandowski star in the headlines

Rashford celebrates after Jules Conte's own goal gave United a 2-1 lead at the Nou Camp.

Rashford celebrates after Jules Conte’s own goal gave United a 2-1 lead at the Nou Camp.

But Raphinha scored to level the tie and leave the result in the balance

But Raphinha scored to level the tie and leave the result in the balance

Football fans everywhere will be hoping that Erik ten Hag and Xavi's sides serve up another classic

Football fans everywhere will be hoping that Erik ten Hag and Xavi’s sides serve up another classic

“It will depend on what he wants to do, but also what suits the club. He is the best player in history, he would always fit in.’

The main protagonists of Rashford and Lewandowski also grace the cover of the Catalan-language L’Esportiu.

“Finish strong” is their headline as they predict the second leg will go down to penalties between the two strikers at Old Trafford.

But they admit it will be a real test for a Barcelona side without two key midfielders in Pedri and Gavi.

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