The rival Premier League clubs cannot play at home in the same week due to policing, meaning the Red Devils have been forced to alter their plans. Manchester United have seen their Champions League quarter-final tie with Barcelona switched around, meaning the first leg will take place at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils were drawn to face the Spanish champions in the last eight on Friday, with Barca’s name initially coming out of the hat first. However, Manchester City’s presence in the draw and their own tie with Tottenham means United will now begin their quest to reach the semi-finals on home soil. United and City cannot, due to policing demands, play at home on the same night or on back-to-back evenings, with City’s draw seeing them play Mauricio Pochettino’s side at the Etihad Stadium in the second leg. With that in mind, contingency plans have been put in place by UEFA.
With the Red Devils and their neighbours placed in the same side of the draw, then City – having taken the Premier League title when finishing above United last season – get preferential treatment and be granted the right to stick with their original schedule. An explanatory statement released by UEFA ahead of the draw read: “Following a decision made by the relevant local authorities, Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC cannot play at home on the same night, nor on consecutive nights.
“Should both clubs be drawn within the same sequence (home or away), the team having finished lower in the domestic league the previous season – in this case, Manchester United FC – will be reversed in accordance with the UEFA Club Competitions Committee principles. The match schedule for the quarter-finals (including a potential reversal involving Manchester United FC) will be communicated to all parties at approximately 12:45 CET on Friday 15 March.
“In accordance with paragraph 21.01(b) of the UEFA Champions League regulations, the UEFA administration will determine which matches will be played on Tuesday, which matches on Wednesday. The calendar for the semi-finals (including a potential reversal involving Manchester United FC, for the same reasons, if both clubs from Manchester are still remaining in the competition) will be communicated to all parties on 18 April 2019, following the return legs of the quarter-finals.”
Elsewhere in the draw, Liverpool will take on Porto, with the winner of that tie set to face either Man Utd or Barcelona in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s pursuit of a fourth straight European title and first with Juventus will see the Bianconeri face Ajax, with the winners to take on the victors from the all-Premier League tie between City and Spurs.