Manchester United need their best performance of the season to beat Barca


Manchester United must produce their “best performance of the season” to beat Barcelona and reach the last 16 of the Europa League, says manager Erik ten Heg.

The sides, who shared a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp on February 16, will meet in the second leg of the play-off at Old Trafford on Thursday.

“When you meet big teams like Barcelona, ​​you have to play your best, otherwise you won’t have a chance,” said Ten Hag.

United, who have not won the trophy since 2017, play Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

They are third in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Arsenal, and will face West Ham United in the fifth round of the FA Cup on March 1.

“We have an opportunity,” said Ten Haeg, who took over last summer.

“But the next game always comes first and we can’t win the (Europa League) trophy this week.

“We have to keep the same mindset that we want to create a better version of ourselves every day.”

Ten Hag described dining with legendary former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who won 13 league titles, this week as “cool”.

“I always enjoy communicating with people who have a lot of knowledge and experience. He wants to share it; he wants to help and support,” Ten Heg said.

“You feel that Manchester United is his club. He feels so committed and wants us to do well.

“It was a great night and I’m looking forward to the next night with him.”

Winger Anthony and defender Harry Maguire are expected to be available against La Liga leaders Barcelona after injury, but striker Anthony Martial remains sidelined.

Defender Lisandro Martinez and midfielder Marcel Zabitzer return from suspension.

Barcelona are without midfielders Pedri and Gavi through injury and suspension respectively, while France forward Ousmane Dembele is still ruled out with a hamstring problem.

But experienced midfielder Sergio Busquets was included in the squad after missing the first leg with an ankle injury.

Barcelona manager Xavi said: “It’s a really tough game, Manchester United are one of the best teams in Europe and they’re showing it.

“This is the best Manchester United have been in the last few years and Erik ten Hag has done a tremendous job.

“They showed a lot of passion at the Nou Camp and we have to match that. It’s a tough stadium and we have to show personality, play the way we can and be very intense during the game.

“Mentality is what we need to play a game like this. Manchester United still to win against Manchester City and Arsenal [в Прем’єр-лізі]so it’s the perfect stage to show that Barcelona can compete with these teams.”

Xavi, a four-time Champions League winner with Barcelona, ​​praised the influence of United defender Raphael Varane and midfielder Casemiro.

“They are really important to the team, not only as players but also with their mentality and they are used to playing these kinds of games,” he added.

“It was very important for United to get Casemiro [з «Реала» минулого літа].

“Such players change their team.”

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