FC Barcelona coach Xavi has admitted that he has received the toughest opponent in the Europa League round of 16.
Barcelona have failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second consecutive season. They finished third in Group C, behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
With Barcelona securing a third place finish, the Spanish team earned a spot in the draw for the Europa League round of 16. The draw for the round of 16 took place on Monday and Barcelona faced Manchester United.
Man Utd failed to qualify directly for the Europa League round of 16 after finishing second in Group E, behind Real Sociedad. The Red Devils will have to overcome Barcelona to seal their place in the next phase of the competition.
‘Barcelona have the toughest rival’: Xavi reacts to Europa League round of 16 draw
Speaking after learning that they will face Manchester United in the play-off, Barcelona manager Xavi admitted that they have received the most difficult opponent.
Xavi also pointed out that Man Utd has grown a lot since Erik ten Hag became manager of the Red Devils. He confessed that it is the worst draw they could have achieved.
“He is the most difficult opponent once again, but we will look forward to it,” said the Barcelona coach.
“It is a historic team, it has grown a lot with the arrival of Ten Hag, it has great players. It is the worst draw we could have achieved. Once again, no luck.”
Although Barcelona have had a disappointing campaign in the Champions League 22/23, they have been impressive in La Liga. Barça rank first in the Spanish top flight, ahead of defending champion Real Madrid.
Barcelona sit at the top of the La Liga points table with 34 points from 13 games. They have only lost five points in the league so far this season. Barça has 11 wins, one draw and one defeat so far in the Spanish top flight in the 22/23 campaign.
Barcelona also enjoy a two-point lead over Real Madrid, who lost 3-2 to Rayo Vallecano earlier this week. Real Madrid has 32 points in 13 league games.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are fifth in the Premier League points table, with 23 points from 13 games. The Old Trafford side are 11 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, who have 34 points from 13 games.