'The Champions League anthem makes me angry!' - Xavi insists Barcelona should still be in Europe's premier competition
- Barcelona made UCL group stage exit
- Set to face Man Utd in UEL playoffs
- Insists Barca belong in elite competition
WHAT HAPPENED? The Blaugrana were eliminated from the Champions League after they finished third behind Bayern Munich and Inter in Group C with just seven points from six matches. Barca have now failed to reach the knockout stage in two successive seasons and Xavi has admitted that it is annoying to hear the Champions League anthem in front of the television rather than from the dugout.
WHAT THEY SAID: The Spaniard believes Barca should always be participating in the latter stages of the competition, as he told reporters ahead of his team's Europa League knockout play-off tie against Manchester United: "It still makes me angry to listen to the Champions League anthem from home. For history and greatness we should be there.
"But we have to face reality. We are excited about this competition, which has been very beautiful for the teams that have remained. It’s always important, and more so in Europe, since we’re coming off a few seasons without success. It’s a good test, without a doubt, to see that we can compete in Europe."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Manchester United failed to qualify for the Champions League after they finished sixth in the Premier League in 2021-22 and had to settle for a Europa League berth. Asked whether he feels United are good enough to be competing in the Champions League rather than the second-tier competition, Xavi responded: "A Champions League team? Neither one nor the other have won the right to be in the Champions League, so it is unfair to say this. But it is a very strong Manchester, and it was about time we see a Manchester like that.”
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WHAT NEXT? The two traditional European heavyweights, Barcelona and Manchester United, will lock horns in the first leg of their Europa League Playoff fixture at Camp Nou on Thursday evening. The return leg is due to take place at Old Trafford on February 23.