Manchester United have drawn Spanish giants Barcelona in a nightmare Europa League play-off tie. But when will the games take place?
Next February Xavi’s stuttering Barca side will take on Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd in a play-off round of Europe’s second-tier competition - a marker of the decline of two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs.
The Red Devils failed to qualify for the round of 16 with a bye after finishing second in their Europa League group to Real Sociedad.
It is the second consecutive season the Spanish five-time European champions have crashed out of the Champions League group stages, with the club having previously reached the knockout stages of the competition for 17 consecutive seasons.
Man Utd vs Barcelona: When will the tie take place?
Man Utd will travel to the Camp Nou for the first leg of the play-off on February 16, while the return leg will be a week later on February 23 at Old Trafford.
Following the result, the draw of the last 16 will take place on February 24, with Arsenal and West Ham in the hat after both sides topped their Europa League groups.
Should Man Utd progress then there will not be much preparation time for Erik ten Hag’s side with the last 16 ties taking place on March 9 and 16.
Man Utd vs Barcelona: What does the tie mean?
Barcelona in particular, face huge pressure to qualify for the latter stages of the Europa League, given the financial state of the club.
The Catalan giants, who are allegedly £1.1billion in debt, spent over £130million on signings in the summer including a reported £40million to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
At the time Barca’s budget factored in the club reaching at least the quarter-final of the Champions League.
The club’s failure to get out of the group could allegedly cost them up to £17million in prize money, but how much they miss out on is dependent on how far they progress in the Europa League.
An exit to Man Utd at this early stage could see the club in serious financial trouble.
Europa League play-off draw
Barcelona v Manchester United, Juventus v Nantes, Sporting Lisbon v Midtjylland, Shakhtar Donetsk v Rennes, Ajax v Union Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco, Sevilla v PSV Eindhoven, FC Salzburg v Roma
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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