“I think Barcelona and us as well would have preferred to play this match in the final,” said Erik ten Hag during an interview with the UEFA ahead of the Europa League first-leg knockout tie.
“We are looking forward to it, it takes a lot of energy searching for that finish and it will be a great game.
“Hopefully, everyone is fit for Barcelona and for us. So, we see a game that will be played at the highest level. As a player, I admire Barcelona’s manager, Xavi. Barcelona, the way they played with him: he was such an important part of the team.”
Ten Hag continued: “You can see the philosophy he now brings to his Barcelona. I really like his team, the attacking way of play. I think he is heading in the right direction. I think it’s going to be a good challenge between Manchester United and Barcelona.”
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Of course, it’s exciting to play Barcelona but United have been dealt a cruel set of fixtures in the next two weeks.
The Red Devils have two games against Barcelona, a Premier League clash against Leicester City and then the Carabao Cup final with Newcastle United.
With poor squad depth and a number of injuries seeping in, it will be a challenging period for Ten Hag and co.