Xavi Hernandez praises Man Utd as ‘top team in Europe’ but believes Barcelona shoud have won Europa League tie

Xavi Hernandez paid tribute to both sides in the 2-2 draw between Barcelona and Manchester United, and believes in the future they could meet in a Champions League final.

Barcelona took the lead in the Europa League playoff clash early in the first half through wing-back Marcos Alonso before Marcus Rashford scored his 22nd goal of the season two minutes later.

Just before the hour mark, Jules Kounde put the ball into his own net, before a 76th-minute equaliser from Raphinha, who was later withdrawn by Xavi as the home side chased victory.

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Barca head coach Xavi said he was able to enjoy the game as a spectacle despite being invested in the outcome.

“It was a really tough game, really difficult, with a lot of intensity, passion, rhythm,” he told BT Sport.

“I think we have to be proud because we competed really well until the end. We could have won in the last two chances, but we played against a top team in Europe.”

Xavi praised United and their manager Erik ten Hag for the display they put on after their recent years of struggle.

“I think Manchester is coming back, and they showed their best. We need to be proud. We need to compete well in Old Trafford,” he said.

“I think both teams are more or less in the same moment, in the same position, that we are coming back. I said to Ten Hag now, “Congratulations,” because he’s doing very well and they are Manchester United.

“It can be a final, a semi-final, a quarter-final maybe in the future of the Champions League, but now we are in the Europa League and we are coming back.

“Today we showed our very best performance, a very good performance from both teams.”

Xavi was also asked about how he had perceived Raphinha showing frustration as he was substituted, but said he was content to see a player who wanted to remain on the pitch.

He added: “That is normal, this is football. I have to say they have to be angry, this is in a positive way. When I was a player I was angry when the coach changed me.

“The problem is if they don’t have an attitude on the pitch and Raphinha is always 100%, amazing.”

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