Barcelona manager Xavi excited to take on Manchester United in the Europa League playoffs for a place in the round of 16
Xavi is looking forward to the Europa League playoffs as Manchester United are set to take on Barcelona for a place in the round of 16.
The Red Devils finished second in Group E of the UEL. We took on Real Sociedad, Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia Nicosia. However, the La Liga outfit pipped us to the top spot and booked their place in the knockout rounds.
The Old Trafford side lost 1-0 to La Real at home in their first game of the 2022/23 group stage. However, we managed to do our job home and away against the Moldovan and Cypriot outfits.
Erik ten Hag’s team then had to beat the Spaniards by a margin of more than one goal at the Reale Arena. However, we managed only a 1-0 win and were runners-up on goal difference.
Thus, United have to face a team that finished third in their Champions League and dropped from the prestigious European competition to make it to the round of 16 of the UEL.
Speaking to the media (h/t Manchester Evening News), former Barcelona midfielder and current manager Xavi has nothing but praise for the Manchester-based club, who he feels have evolved under the former Ajax boss.
“We will have to compete. Going to Manchester against a really tough rival and a historic side that has grown a lot with Ten Hag, with great individual players.
“Yes, it is the toughest rival, once again, in the Europa League. We will have to compete, it’s a massive challenge for us, our players will probably be more motivated against a strong team and we will have to compete.”
The Red Devils play the first leg on February 16 at Camp Nou and then welcome the Spanish giants to Old Trafford on February 23. To keep our hopes alive of making it to the Puskas Aréna in Hungary for the final, we must first beat the Blaugrana.
Xavi’s team surprisingly dropped out of their group, with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan progressing. After the Catalan outfit’s transfer business in the summer of 2022, some fans believed they would go far in the UCL.
However, Barcelona have to contend with United in the UEL. Recent fixtures between the two club football giants have gone the La Liga side’s way. The two UCL finals in 2009 and 2011 saw the Blaugrana dominate us.
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But the two clubs are not currently at the same heights as they once were. However, we won the UEL in the 2016/17 campaign. And fans of the Red Devils will be confident of getting the better of Barcelona in their quest for silverware this season.