That’s according to football consultant Ian McGarry, who admits it has been difficult for the Spanish champions to replace Andres Iniesta and Xavi in midfield.
Barca will face United in the last eight of the competition next month.
Ironically, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will take his Red Devils side to the Nou Camp almost 20 years on from his heroics in the 1999 final at the very same venue against Bayern Munich.
But McGarry insists he will be coming up against the best side in Europe right now.
“Of course there is a connection here, it’s 20 years since that incredible final in Barcelona. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the winning goal, he’s now the manager of Manchester United and he gets to play against Barcelona in the quarter-finals,” he told The Transfer Window podcast.
“So he gets to go to the Camp Nou again, this time as manager, 20 years on to try and conjure up the kind of performance which will allow Manchester United – who are only fourth favourites for this competition at the moment – to overcome a Barcelona side who ironically are chasing a treble in La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League.
“So, yeah, it’s just incredible in terms of the stories and the head-to-heads, what we’re looking at in terms of the way things have worked out.
“Here we have a situation where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, European Cup winner for Manchester United, treble winner for Manchester United, against a Barcelona side that is also going for a treble in their domestic and European competitions, is trying to mastermind two performances home and away against probably the best team in Europe right now.
McGarry’s words came after:
“What they have over everyone else in this competition is players on the pitch that know what it’s like to win the Champions League – and that is absolutely invaluable”
“It’s difficult [for Barcelona] to replace that quality in midfield. I’m not sure that those players come along once every 20/30 years.
“They don’t look invincible and they had a little wobble about three weeks ago going into the second [El] Clasico of the season that they won 1-0. In the Champions League as well they hadn’t performed to their best.
“But what they have over everyone else in this competition is players on the pitch that know what it’s like to win the Champions League – and that is absolutely invaluable.
“Manchester United, we’ve got to also talk about the fact that they are trying to make top four.
“Remember, going back two seasons to Jose Mourinho’s second season at United where, unlike Walter Smith, he focused on the Europa League because he saw that as the most credible way and practical way into the Champions League the following season – and he went out and won the Europa League.
“Look at Sir Alex Ferguson 1999 when they won the historic treble. He has since explained on many occasions that he just effectively let the team pick itself, which it did.
“He cut down on training because the players were at such a level of fitness, but also in danger of fatigue that it would be unwise of him to meddle too much with team selection.
“And you saw, anyone who witnessed that campaign and I was very lucky to be covering it right up to that incredible Champions League final in the Camp Nou in Barcelona against Bayern Munich, that momentum carried Manchester United over the line in the league, the FA Cup and against Bayern Munich with those two incredible added-time goals.”