Manchester United have a massive test in the Europa League knockouts

After placing third in their Champions League group, Xavi’s team was eliminated from the competition, and Man Utd lost the top spot to Real Sociedad.

Reacting to the draw, Barcelona manager Xavi said: “We will have to compete, going to Manchester against a really top rival and a historic side which has grown a lot with the arrival of (Erik) Ten Hag.

“[They have] great individual players and it is the toughest rival once again in the Europa League.

“We will have time to analyse it, they are a strong team in both defence and attack, not just for Cristiano Ronaldo, but other players [too]. Manchester United are a historic club and they also need to win. Two big teams and it’s going to be a massive task.”

In 13 meetings between the two teams in European competition, Man Utd has only prevailed three times, where the last occurred in the Champions League semifinals in April 2008, with Man Utd winning 1-0 on aggregate.

Barcelona was eliminated after a scoreless draw at the Nou Camp thanks to a goal from Paul Scholes in the 14th minute at Old Trafford. Man United defeated Chelsea in the competition’s championship game on penalties that year.

However, Barcelona has prevailed in all four of their most recent encounters, including two Champions League finals. They defeated Man Utd 3-1 at Wembley two years after winning 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.

In their most recent encounter in Europe, Barcelona prevailed 4-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals of the 2018–19 season.

Additionally, Cristiano Ronaldo will have the opportunity to compete against his former El Clasico foe. The former Real Madrid player has 20 goals in 34 career matches against Barcelona, but has never done so for Manchester United.

Man Utd has a busy February ahead of them, playing Premier League games against Leeds, Leicester, and Brentford in addition to the Europa League play-off.

Additionally, if both teams make it to the round of 16, Jose Mourinho’s Roma team could be paired with his former Manchester United team in a matchup against RB Salzburg.

Juventus of Serie A will play Nantes, Sevilla, a six-time Europa League champion, will play PSV Eindhoven, and Ten Hag’s former team, Ajax, will play Union Berlin of the Bundesliga.