Erik: Small details can make the difference

Thursday 16 February 2023 08:23

Erik ten Hag says "all the small details can make a difference" as Manchester United prepare to take on Barcelona at the Nou Camp this evening.

The sides will play the first leg of our Europa League play-off at the iconic arena at 17:45 GMT, and fans and neutrals alike are relishing the prospect of seeing two of football's giants lock horns once more.

Ahead of the match, as usual, Erik conducted an exclusive Q&A with club media, giving his thoughts on the fixture, the direction both clubs are going in, and the late, great Johan Cruyff.

You can read every word from Ten Hag's pre-match interview below...

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Barcelona (A) Video

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Barcelona (A)

Erik discusses the Nou Camp, Barcelona's progress, and his admiration for Johan Cruyff before our Europa League clash...

Erik, we are here at the Nou Camp, a special place for European football. We saw you on the pitch - what were you looking at out there?
"I do it usually. Always when I come to an away stadium - Premier League or Europe - I go to the pitch. I want to see the pitch, I want to see the quality of the pitch and I take it into my preparation."

Do you get any kind of feeling when you go out into an empty stadium as big as this one?
"Of course, you get a certain feeling from every stadium but it's just about imagination and how you want to prepare your team, that they are ready. All the small details can make the difference."
These are two huge European powers, Manchester United and Barcelona, with lots of history between them. Both of them seem to be working back towards greatness again, don't they?
"Yeah, I think we are both in the right direction but you are right, I think everyone has to see that as well. When you are playing in the Europa League, that is not the place we want to be. These clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United, they belong in the Champions League. But you have to earn it, so we have to work hard. I think we are in both the right direction but we are very strong, both clubs."

You've had some injury issues, but Casemiro is back in the squad. How much of a headache has it been with such a busy fixture list?
"We are playing in four [competitions]. The only [club doing so] in Europe. So the suspensions, injuries will come up and you have to deal with it. Therefore, you have a squad and I am sure [against Barcelona] we have a good team on the pitch."

Ten Hag: This tie is great for both clubs


The boss is convinced United and Barcelona are heading in the right direction and will learn a lot on Thursday.

I suppose the other thing to talk about is the Johan Cruyff link, and how much of an impact he had at Barcelona and also on you and your career. Can you talk to us a little bit about him?
"Jordi Cruyff was playing for Manchester United as well, but I think Johan Cruyff had a big impact on European and modern football, with his way of thinking; out-of-the-box thinking. He was a magnificent football player, in the Netherlands but also here in Spain at Barcelona. He won many trophies but also it was in a certain way. It was in the way of adventure and attacking."

Build up to the blockbuster: