Erik ten Hag gives honest verdict about Manchester United facing Barcelona in Europa League tie

February 14, 2023

Man United take on Barcelona in the Europa League play-off first leg on Thursday and Erik ten Hag has previewed the tie.

Erik ten Hag has admitted he would have preferred for Manchester United to play Barcelona in the final of the Europa League.

United failed to win their Europa League group and Barcelona finished third in their Champions League group earlier this season, which means the two clubs will now meet in a play-off round over two legs at Camp Nou and Old Trafford.

The meetings between the two sides have predominantly been in the Champions League in the past, but both are now competing in the Europa League and Barcelona are in fact the favourites to progress to the next round of the competition.

The first leg of the tie will be played on Thursday evening in Spain and Ten Hag has been speaking ahead of that clash. The Dutchman praised Barcelona in his preview and admitted he would have preferred to play them in the final instead.

“I think Barcelona and us as well would have preferred to play this match in the final,” Ten Hag told “We are looking forward to it, it takes a lot of energy searching for that finish and it will be a great game.

“Hopefully, everyone is fit for Barcelona and for us. So, we see a game that will be played at the highest level. As a player, I admire Barcelona’s manager, Xavi. Barcelona, the way they played with him: he was such an important part of the team.

“You can see the philosophy he now brings to his Barcelona. I really like his team, the attacking way of play. I think he is heading in the right direction. I think it’s going to be a good challenge between Manchester United and Barcelona.”