Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has admitted that the club hoped not to be drawn against Barcelona in the Europa League play-off after it appeared the Laliga giants were in contention to face them after finishing third in their Champions League group.
With Manchester United coming second in Group E behind Real Sociedad, they were pitted to play against any relegated team from the Champions League according to a UEFA new rule.
The draws took place on Monday, following the completion of the Champions League draws, and the Red Devils were paired up against the Blaugrana over a two-legged playoffs knockout round.
Speaking to the club’s media, De Gea expresses his optimism about the tie and believes Manchester United can defeat the Laliga club’s firepower.
“We know Barcelona is a great team, I think they are playing well,” De Gea told club media.
“Of course, it was one of the teams that we probably didn’t want to play against but if you want to win the Europa League, you have to play against the best teams and Barcelona is [one of these]. It’s one for the fans and we will try our best to win both games.
“Yeah, I think so [it’s a good test]. There’s still a lot of time [before we have] to play the Europa League games so we have to be focused on the rest of the games [before then]. Of course, playing against the best teams is always a challenge.
“So we need to be very ready to play against Barcelona and to play against any team that we have to play against.”
The first leg of the tie will see the Spaniard shot-stopper travel along with his team to his hometown on Thursday 16 February (17:45 GMT) at the Spotify Camp Nou with the second leg coming the following week on Thursday 23 February, 2023 at Old Trafford.