Jordi Cruyff is relishing a “special” Europa League tie between Barcelona and Manchester United but thinks it is a shame they will not meet later in the competition.
Barca finished behind Bayern Munich and Inter in Champions League Group C, plunging them into the Europa League for a second consecutive season.
Monday’s knockout round play-off draw handed the Catalan giants a heavyweight clash with United, which Xavi lamented as the “most difficult” assignment possible.
Blaugrana sporting director Cruyff, who represented both clubs during his playing days, would like such a mouthwatering tie to have taken place in the latter stages of the Europa League.
“I think it’s a draw that both teams would have preferred to have further down the line, not so quick, but that’s the beauty of football, you never know what’s going to come,” Cruyff said.
“It came now, and it’s probably going to be a tough match for both, but also very special as these are two historic football clubs.
“Barcelona is a club where the pressure is always at the max, everything you start, you always need to win. That’s the pressure that these sorts of clubs have, the same that United will have.
“For us, it’s a motivation and the fact that we get a team like this so quickly means that this competition isn’t easy at all. It’s difficult, but you know that we’re motivated.”
Barca have fond memories of their recent fixtures against United, having beaten the Red Devils in four successive meetings – including Champions League final triumphs in 2009 and 2011.