Manchester United face Barcelona in their Europa League play-off in February, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma face RB Salzburg.
Xavi’s side crashed out of the competition after finishing third in their Champions League group, while Man Utd lost top spot to Real Sociedad.
Barcelona manager Xavi reacted to the game, saying: “We will have to compete, to go to Manchester against a great opponent and a historic team that has grown a lot when it comes. [Erik] ten Hag.
“[They have] good players individually and is the strongest opponent also in the Europa League.
“We will have time to analyze it, they are a strong team in defense and attack, not only for Cristiano Ronaldo, but for other players. [too]. Manchester United is a historic team and they need to win again. Two big teams and it will be a big job. “
The two sides have faced each other 13 times in European competition, although Man Utd have won just three of these meetings. The last came in April 2008 when Man Utd won 1-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
After a goalless draw at the Nou Camp, Paul Scholes’ 14th-minute winner at Old Trafford fired Barcelona away. Man Utd would go on to win the championship that year, beating Chelsea on penalties in the final.
But Barcelona have won each of the last four meetings, including two Champions League finals. They were 2-0 winners at the Stadio Olimpico in May 2009 and beat Man Utd 3-1 at Wembley two years later.
Their last European game was in the 2018/19 quarter-finals when Barcelona won 4-0 on aggregate.
It’s also a chance for Cristiano Ronaldo to face his old El Clásico foe. The former Real Madrid man has now scored 20 goals in 34 appearances against Barcelona, A former one, he has not been able to do so for Man Utd.
Busy schedule for Man United in January
- February 11/12: Leeds vs Man Utd
- February 16: Barcelona vs Man Utd
- February 19/20: Man Utd vs Leicester
- February 23: Man Utd vs Barcelona
- February 26/27: Man Utd vs Brentford
The Europa League fixture comes in the middle of a busy January for Man Utd, who also face Leeds, Leicester and Brentford in the Premier League.
Elsewhere, it belongs to Jose Mourinho Rome will face RB Salzburg with the possibility of being drawn against his former club Man Utd if both teams qualify for the last 16.
Fellow Serie A side Juventus it will take Nantes, Sevilla – six-time winners of the Europa League – will face PSV Eindhoven and Erik ten Hag’s first team Ajax will take the Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
Europa League fixtures in full
- Barcelona vs Man Utd
- Juventus vs Nantes
- Match Lisbon vs FC Midtjylland
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs Rennes
- Ajax vs Union Berlin
- Bayer Leverkusen vs Monaco
- Sevilla vs PSV Eindhoven
- RB Salzburg vs Roma
‘This is not the Barcelona of old’
Stephen Warnock on Sky Sports News:
“That’s what we want to see as neutrals. You want to see the best teams fight each other. It’s a great spectacle.
“Man Utd will fancy their chances. This is not the Barcelona of old.
“They are struggling and they don’t have the quality and staff that you would think would challenge for the top honours.”
‘Lewandowski is a big challenge for Man Utd’
Sue Smith on Sky Sports News:
“Robert Lewandowski will fancy his chances against Man Utd’s defence.
“It’s a big challenge for Man Utd and a big challenge for their defenders against a Lewandowski player who we know is brilliant in front of goal.”
When will the games be played?
The first legs of the final play-off round will be played on February 16, 2023, before the second leg a week later.
When will Arsenal learn the last 16 opponents?
Arsenal’s automatic progression to the last 16 of this season’s Europa League means they will have to wait until the end of the play-offs before learning who they will face in the competition.
The last 16 of the Europa League will take place on 24 January 2023, the day after the second leg, with the last 16 ties taking place on 9 March and 16 March respectively.
Important dates of the Europa League
- Sports ties: February 16 and February 23
- Last day of 16: February 24
- Last 16 ties: March 9 and March 16
- Semi-finals and finals: March 17
- Last quarter connections: 13 April and 20 April
- Semi-final ties: May 11 and May 18
- Final: May 31st at Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary