Xavi insists Barcelona will now be ‘favorite’ to win Europa League
The Catalan giants dropped out of the Champions League in the group stage
They will face a play-off game to qualify for the round of 16 of the Europa League
Xavi insisted that Barcelona are now favorites to win the Europa League after their disappointing early exit from the Champions League.
The Catalan giants finished third in Group C of Europe’s elite competition, behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, meaning they failed to reach the round of 16 and will now drop to the Europa League.
Barça will now face a play-off tie to qualify for the round of 16 of the European secondary competition, where they could face the likes of Manchester United or PSV depending on how the final group stage games play out.
It will only be the second time since 2009 that Barcelona will play in the Europa League, having played and dropped out of the competition last season in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on aggregate.
‘There is still a very good Europa League. Our objective is to reach the final and win it. I understand them labeling us as favourites,’ Xavi told the media via Goal after his team’s 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen.
“We are forced to try to win the Europa League, but we saw last year that it is a very complicated competition. With the teams that exist this year, it seems very difficult.’
Xavi’s team won’t start their Europa League campaign until February 16, although the play-off draw will take place next week (November 7).
Barcelona will face one of the teams that finished as runners-up in the Europa League group stage.
The Spanish giants at least managed to finish their Champions League campaign on a high with a 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night, although they have only won two out of six matches in the competition this season.
They failed to beat Bayern or Inter, making it difficult for them to have much of a chance to progress to the knockout stages.
Xavi added: ‘The feedback is negative. This stage had its moments and we took no chances. ‘Bayern Munich and Inter did. We couldn’t win in Munich or Milan. This is the balance in the end.’