‘Good luck with that one’ – Souness and Xavi react to Man Utd facing Barcelona in Europa draw

Graeme Souness speaks about Man Utd Credit: Alamy
Graeme Souness speaks about Man Utd Credit: Alamy

Graeme Souness insists Man Utd couldn’t have hoped for a “more difficult” match than Barcelona in their Europa League knockout play-off.

The Red Devils pulled out the Catalan giants in the draw on Monday morning with the second-placed sides in the group stage facing the Champions League drop-outs for a place in the last-16.

Barcelona came third in their Champions League group with the La Liga outfit failing to beat either Bayern Munich or Inter Milan as both their victories came against group whipping boys Viktoria Pizen.

Although doing a lot better since the start of the season, their loss on Sunday to Aston Villa saw Man Utd remain in fifth position in the Premier League table, behind where they will be aiming to be come the end of the season.

Barcelona are currently top of La Liga, having won 11 of their 13 matches this campaign in the Spanish top flight, and former Liverpool midfielder Souness reckons Man Utd couldn’t have wished for a worse tie.

Reacting to the draw on talkSPORT, Souness simply said: “Good luck with that one.”

Souness expanded: “I don’t think you could have picked a more difficult one.

“I think [Barcelona] are doing OK, I know there’s been recent controversy over [Gerard] Pique and they way he’s been treated coming to the end of his career.

“But I think that Barca are decent at this time.”

And Barcelona boss Xavi – who has come under a little pressure after their disappointing Champions League campaign – thinks Man Utd are the “most difficult opponent” they could’ve possibly faced.

Ahead of their game against Osasuna tomorrow, Xavi said in his pre-match press conference: “It is the most difficult opponent once again. But we will look forward to it.

“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.”

Cristiano Ronaldo spent most of the summer transfer window looking for a way out of Old Trafford after Man Utd failed to qualify for the Champions League.

There have been rumours he could leave in January if he can find the right club to take him after being disciplined recently for refusing to come off the bench against Tottenham.

Ronaldo started in their loss to Aston Villa on Sunday, with Erik ten Hag making him captain, but he failed to score and Xavi was asked about the Portugal international on Monday.

On Ronaldo, Xavi added: “Do I think Cristiano’s level has dropped?

“He’s a great player, he has been one of the best players and he can definitely make the difference for them.”

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