Football

‘Fear of what?’ – Barcelona boss Xavi not scared of Man Utd fortress

Barcelona

Barcelona manager Xavi has said that rather than being feared of playing at Old Trafford, he is motivated.

The boss takes his team to Manchester in the second leg of their Europa League play-off clash this evening, with the two European heavyweights drawing the first leg at Camp Nou.

Ex-Premier League men Marcos Alonso and Raphinha scored in the 2-2 stalemate in Spain last week, with Marcus Rashford and a Jules Kounde own goal setting up the second leg perfectly.

Barcelona boss not scared of Old Trafford

Both clubs are enjoying strong seasons, with Man Utd sitting third in the Premier League and Barcelona sitting top of La Liga, eight points ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

And they both go into the encounter at Old Trafford in fine form, having both won their recent league meetings on Sunday, as Barcelona defeated Cadiz and Man Utd defeated Leicester.

Manager Erik ten Hag has turned things around dramatically in the dugout, and after a lengthy period of home instability before his arrival, Man Utd have turned Old Trafford into a fortress once again.

In fact, Ten Hag’s men have not lost at their home stadium since early September. Despite the Red Devils’ success in Manchester, Xavi is not scared of what awaits his side this evening.

“Fear? Fear of what? On the contrary, Old Trafford motivates [you],” said Xavi, as reported by LiveScore. “It is one of those stadiums where you want to play at least once in your life, where you have to get the best out of yourself.”

Should Xavi be scared?

Worryingly for Barcelona, tonight’s match represents the sixth time they will play Man Utd away in a competitive fixture, with the Spanish side winning just one of the previous five matches. There have been two Man Utd victories and two draws.

The positive news for Xavi, however, is the fact that the solitary Barcelona win came in their most recent fixture at Old Trafford, with Luke Shaw finding the back of his own net in the 2018/19 Champions League quarter-final.

Focusing on the upcoming game, the Barcelona boss has various issues to contend with, as both Ousmane Dembele and Pedri will be forced to watch on from the sidelines due to injury. Moreover, young star Gavi misses out through suspension.

Fortunately there is some good news for the visitors as veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets looks set to be available again after recovering from his ankle injury.

Barcelona

Barcelona manager ready for ‘special’ evening

Manchester is set to welcome back Xavi, but this time in the dugout as opposed to on the pitch. It is undoubtedly a special stadium for the Spaniard, who made his European debut at Old Trafford in a 1998/99 Champions League group stage encounter. It was just the midfielder’s second-ever Barcelona match.

“I have very good memories of the games I played in England, simply because it is so special to play there,” added Xavi. “It is the cradle of football.

“The stadiums, the fans who do not stop cheering, everything has a very special flavour that is not seen anywhere else in the world.”