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Europa League: Xavi Hernandez’s fears come true

Our Bureau Nyon Published 08.11.22, 04:58 AM
Xavi Hernandez.

Xavi Hernandez. File photo

Barcelona and Manchester United will meet in the Europa League playoffs for a place in the competition’s last-16.

Spanish side Barcelona met the 2017 Europa League winners twice in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, winning on both occasions, while United lost both legs of the 2018-19 European Cup quarter-final meeting between the pair.


United finished second in their Europa League group this season behind another Spanish team — Real Sociedad — and meet a Barca side that missed out on the Champions League last-16 after finishing third in their group.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the draw will see the possible return of Cristiano Ronaldo to face Barca. The Portuguese striker faced Barça in his first spell with United as well as during his time with Madrid and Juventus.

“The draw has given us the most difficult rival again, like in the Champions League group stage. Luck was not on our side. Manchester United are great rivals, a historic club — the worst that we could wish for,” Barca manager Xavi Hernandez said after the draw.

The eight group runners-up from the Europa League face eight thirdplaced sides from the Champions League group stages, with the winners of the two-legged playoffs progressing to the last-16.

The pick of the other ties sees Sevilla facing PSV Eindhoven, Juventus take on Nantes, while AS Roma face RB Salzburg.

The first legs of the ties will take place on February 16, with the return match a week later on February 23.

Written with inputs from Reuters

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