Ten Hag: This tie is great for both clubs

Wednesday 15 February 2023 18:11

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is relishing the chance to pit his wits against Barcelona boss Xavi at the Nou Camp, as he believes it is a tie that will benefit both clubs.

The Reds face the runaway La Liga leaders in the first of a two-legged Europa League play-off in Thursday's 17:45 GMT kick-off.

It is a perfect opportunity for United to show our capabilities against a team that is currently looking like one of the best in Europe, despite being knocked out of the Champions League earlier in the campaign.

Erik: You can see Xavi’s imprint on Barcelona


Ten Hag believes his counterpart’s style as a player has transferred over into his coaching role at the Nou Camp.

Ten Hag's impact, on and off the field, has been obvious in his first season since leaving Ajax for Old Trafford, and his pedigree with the Dutch club in European competition in the past suggests he will have his side set up to hopefully post a positive result to take back to Manchester.

When asked whether the game feels like it could have been a Champions League final from some time ago, he replied: "I think it's good. Both clubs are in the Europa League and I think both clubs have the ambition to be in the Champions League. Not to just be in the Champions League but they want to really [have an] impact in the Champions League, going beyond the group stage, after the winter, going into the semi-finals and final, and winning it.

"The reality is we're in the Europa League, it tells you both clubs needed a reset. I think we're both in the right direction so I think it's exciting to face each other tomorrow night. It will help both clubs to know where you are. It's a good test. You get challenged from such tests and you get better."

The challenge clearly does not faze Ten Hag, whose Ajax team famously won 4-1 at Real Madrid and also 3-0 at Valencia in 2019.

"I like it and I was here before in Spain for Real Madrid and Valencia," he added at his press conference at the Nou Camp.

"But I think it is great to face Barcelona. I like the philosophy of this club, and that is the football that brings up so many good players and big teams. We are really looking forward to facing them."


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