Xavi Hernandez is aware that Barcelona are ”favourites” for the Europa League but insists a ”very tough” competition awaits them.
- Barcelona out of UCL
- Will compete in the Europa League
- Xavi believes Barca are favourites
WHAT HAPPENED? Barcelona had an early exit from this edition of the Champions League after they managed to win just two out of their six group-stage matches. Now they will compete in Europe’s secondary club competition and must contest a play-off round to actually qualify for the last 16. Xavi has outlined that his goal is to win the tournament, but he insists it won’t be an easy task.
WHAT THEY SAID: “There is still a very nice Europa League. Our goal is to reach the final and win it. I understand that they label us as favourites. We are forced to try to win the Europa League, but we saw last year that it is a very complicated competition. With the teams that there are this year, it looks very tough,” he told reporters after seeing his side beat Viktoria Plzen 4-2 in their final Champions League Group C outing.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Barcelona will start their Europa League campaign on February 16, with the draw to be made prior to the start of the World Cup on November 7. In the round of 16 play-offs they will face one of the teams who finish the Europa League group stage as runners-up. However, they cannot be drawn against another Spanish team in that round.
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WHAT NEXT FOR BARCELONA? Xavi will rally his troops against Almeria and Osasuna in La Liga before the World Cup break.