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David de Gea acknowledge Manchester United hoped to avoid Barcelona in Europa League play-off draw

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David de Gea admits Manchester United wanted to avoid Barcelona in the Europa League play-off draw but says it will be a ‘good test’ for Erik ten Hag’s side.

The Red Devils will need to beat Spanish giants Barcelona in order to progress in the Europa League after finishing second in Group E.

Barcelona, currently top of La Liga, dropped down into the competition after finishing third in Champions League Group C.

‘We know Barcelona is a great team, I think they are playing well,’ De Gea told Manchester United’s official website.

‘Of course, it was one of the teams that we probably didn’t want to play against but if you want to win the Europa League, you have to play against the best teams and Barcelona is [one of these].

‘It’s one for the fans and we will try our best to win both games. I think it’s a good test.

‘There’s still a lot of time [before we have] to play the Europa League games so we have to be focused on the rest of the games [before then].

Europa League play-off draw

Barcelona v Manchester United
Juventus v Nantes
Sporting Lisbon v Midtjylland
Shakhtar Donetsk v Rennes
Ajax v Union Berlin
Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco
Sevilla v PSV Eindhoven
FC Salzburg v Roma

 

‘Of course, playing against the best teams is always a challenge, so we need to be very ready to play against Barcelona and to play against any team that we have to play against.’

The first legs of the Europa League play-offs take place on February 16, with the second legs on February 23.

The winners go into the last-16, which includes teams who finished top of their Europa League groups such as Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Barcelona boss Xavi has also reacted to the Europa League draw, telling reporters: ‘We will have to compete, going to Manchester against a really top rival and an 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. It’s a massive challenge for us.’

Elsewhere, former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s Roma take on Salzburg, Juventus face Nantes and six-time winners Sevilla meet PSV.

Manchester United have won seven of their 13 Premier League games this season to sit fifth, three points outside the top-four places and 11 behind leaders Arsenal.


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