After exiting the Champions League in the group stages, Barcelona will be desperate to avoid dropping out of two European competitions at the first opportunity on Thursday.
Defeat to Manchester United would see the Blaugrana knocked out of the Europa League, following last week’s 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez is hoping to see that his team have made progress from their Champions League excursions earlier in the season.
“Tomorrow we will see if we have changed. We cannot say that we have changed. We haven’t been up to the task in the Champions League, and now we’re in the Europa League. Tomorrow is a test, and this is about proving it on the field.”
Speculation has persisted in recent weeks over a possible return to Barcelona for Lionel Messi. The 35-year-old’s father met club president Joan Laporta on Tuesday to discuss a potential second spell, and Xavi stated that his former teammate is welcome to re-join.
“I’ve said it more than once, the doors are always open for him. He is a friend, and we are in permanent contact. It will depend on what he wants to do, and also on what fits the club. He’s the best player in history, he’d always fit in.”
Messi’s possible return will be in the very back of Xavi’s mind ahead of Thursday’s crucial second leg, as Barcelona aim to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League.
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