Barcelona have drawn Manchester United in the Europa League in another blockbuster European tie for the Catalans, a development that was received with a wry smile from manager Xavi Hernandez.
The Blaugrana crashed out of the Champions League after failing to beat Inter over their two matches in the group stage, having drawn the group of death. Now they must face the largest and definitely best-resourced club they could have in the Europa League play-off round.
The first two names out of the draw were those of Barcelona and Manchester United, Xavi feels it could not have gotten any more difficult.
“The draw has given us the most difficult tie, again. Manchester United are a great rival, the worst that we could face. We will have to compete very well, they have improved a lot since the arrival of Ten Hag, they are fifth in the table.”
Barcelona faced United in 2019, beating the Red Devils 4-0 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals. The previous two times the pair met, Xavi was on the pitch in the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011.
Xavi was also asked if Barcelona were obligated to win the Europa League.
“You really like these terms, in the press. Failure, obligation. It’s a challenge, the club has never won the Europa League and we’re going to go for it.”
Naturally, former rival and Real Madrid icon Cristiano Ronaldo came up. He was asked whether he thought Ronaldo was in a stage of decadence or still at the peak of his powers. Marca streamed the press conference.
“I think he is a great player to me. He has marked an era in world football and he can still make a difference.”
Source by Football Espana