Barcelona manager Xavi insists Cristiano Ronaldo can still be the difference as they prepare to face Manchester United in the Europa League.
WHAT HAPPENED? Xavi spoke after it was confirmed that Barcelona would face Manchester United in the Europa League play-off round in February to determine who will advance to the competition’s last 16. When asked about his opponents, the Barcelona manager was complimentary and wary of Ronaldo, who has struggled this season.
WHAT HE SAID: Xavi said in his press conference: “He’s a fantastic player – one of the best in the world in recent times and he can still make a difference.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ronaldo is no stranger to a fixture against Barcelona, having lost a Champions League final against them during his first spell at United, and having played a part in some of the most memorable Clasico fixtures ever while at Real Madrid. The 38-year-old has struggled tremendously this season, though, and has already been in Erik ten Hag’s bad books once in 2022/23.
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WHAT NEXT FOR RONALDO? While he has featured somewhat regularly and worked his way back into the fold under Ten Hag at United, there is a possibility he could leave in January, before United take on the Blaugrana.