Barcelona head coach Xavi has conceded that his side have received the ‘most difficult opponent’ in their Europa League play-off after being drawn with Manchester United.
For a second season running, Xavi has failed to guide Barça through the group stages of the Champions League and will return to Europe’s second-tier competition on the other side of Christmas.
After already facing Bayern Munich and Inter on the continent this term, Barcelona’s life has not been made much easier after being paired with Man Utd in the play-off round – the Red Devils finished second to La Liga side Real Sociedad in the group stage.
Speaking to the media after the draw, Xavi was full of praise for Man Utd and praised their progress under Erik ten Hag, but revealed his annoyance at Barcelona’s apparent lack of luck this season.
“It is the most difficult opponent once again, but we will look forward to it,” he said.
“They are a historic side, they have grown a lot with the arrival of Ten Hag, they have great players. It’s the worst draw we could have got. Once again, no luck.”
Should he remain at the club at the end of the January transfer window, Cristiano Ronaldo could return to face Barcelona for the first time in the post-Lionel Messi era.
Ronaldo has already faced Barça with Man Utd in the past before duelling them with bitter rivals Real Madrid, while he twice featured against them with Juventus, but never without nemesis Messi on their books.
Barcelona club president Joan Laporta has also previously suggested that they chose to sign Robert Lewandowski instead of Ronaldo during the summer window.