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Man United boss Erik ten Hag is relishing Europa League play-off clash with Barcelona

‘Both clubs needed a reset and are going in the right direction… it’ll be a good test’: Man United boss Erik ten Hag is relishing Europa League play-off clash with Barcelona – but admits European giants ‘have the ambition to be in the Champions League’

  • Two of Europe’s biggest names meet in UEFA’s junior competition on Thursday
  • The clubs are more accustomed to meeting each other in the Champions League
  • United have never beaten Barcelona at the Nou Camp in five previous attempts

Erik ten Hag admits that Manchester United’s Europa League clash with Barcelona is deserving of a grander stage as both clubs look to bring back the glory days.

Two of Europe’s biggest names are more accustomed to meeting each other in the Champions League, but meet in UEFA’s junior competition at the Nou Camp on Thursday for a place in the last 16.

‘Both clubs are in the Europa League and both have the ambition to be in the Champions League, and impact the Champions League to go beyond the group stage,’ said Ten Hag.

‘But the reality is we are in the Europa League. Both clubs needed a reset and we are both on a journey and going in the right direction. We’re excited to face each other tomorrow, it will be a good test.

‘Barcelona are playing their best football for several years. I like the values of this club. It has brought up so many big players and teams. I’m looking forward to facing them.’

Erik ten Hag says Man United’s Europa League clash with Barcelona deserves a  grander stage

Though they are used to meeting in the Champions League, this time it's the Europa League

Though they are used to meeting in the Champions League, this time it’s the Europa League 

There is no escaping the history around this fixture. Barca coach Xavi, of course, was such a key figure of the team that beat United in the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011.

United overcame the Catalans in the semi-finals en route to lifting the European Cup in 2008. 

They have never beaten Barcelona at the Nou Camp before in five previous attempts, but it still holds a place in club legend as the scene of their 1999 Champions League fairy tale against Bayern Munich.

Both teams are in good form going into the game. Utd have suffered just one defeat in 17 – including 14 wins – and Barca are top of La Liga and unbeaten in 16 – a run that has included 13 wins.

‘You see the way Barcelona play, their inspiration is Johan Cruyff,’ added Ten Hag. 

‘It’s very clear. When you see the stats, Barcelona are impressive. They defend well, but I think their biggest skill is they have so much possession. 

‘One of Cruyff’s big sentences was when you have the ball the opponent can’t score.’

Utd arrived in Catalonia without Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer, who are suspended, and Antony, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial who are injured. 

Barca, meanwhile, will be without Ousmane Dembele and veteran Sergio Busquets.

Both teams are in good form with United suffering one loss in 17 and Barcelona unbeaten in 16

Both teams are in good form with United suffering one loss in 17 and Barcelona unbeaten in 16



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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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