Barcelona suffer three ‘huge blows’ for Man Utd tie as Xavi speaks out

Barcelona boss Xavi has admitted that not having Ousmane Dembele available to face Manchester United on Thursday in their Europa League play-off tie is a “huge blow”, along with the absences of Pedri and Gavi. Barcelona and United are level heading into the second leg at Old Trafford tomorrow night after they drew 2-2 last week.

The blockbuster European tie lived up to the hype last week with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Gavi and Raphinha all putting on a show. More will be expected from both teams tomorrow with their European adventure on the line.

Dembele missed last week’s match through injury having not played since January while Pedri was forced off the pitch at the Nou Camp with a thigh issue. Both players are not ready to return for tomorrow’s second leg, while Gavi is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the match last week.

Having all three first-team regulars unavailable will be a test for Xavi to overcome, but the Barcelona boss is confident that those he chooses to replace them will step up to the task. “Dembele is also a big blow, a huge blow for us. He can make a difference on the pitch,” Xavi said.

“Pedri and Gavi are players that are so important for us on the pitch. Gavi has pure passion and intensity and that’s exactly what we need tomorrow. It’s a big absence for us but we have alternatives.”

Xavi is also under no illusion of the task at hand for his Barcelona side against an in-form United team. “It’s a really tough game tomorrow,” he said.

“They are one of the best teams in Europe, they’re showing it in the way the compete and play. It’s the best Man United in a few years. That’s the work Ten Hag have done.

“They showed personality and passion at Camp Nou. It’s a tough stadium to go to and it will be difficult for us.”

United and Barcelona are playing for a spot in the round of 16, with the draw taking place on Friday. The next round of the competition will see teams such as Arsenal, Juventus, Roma and Monaco – although teams from the same nation can’t be drawn against each other.

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