'It makes me angry!' – Barcelona boss Xavi rages at... the Champions League anthem

Barcelona manager Xavi speaks to the media during a press conference on 15 February, 2023 ahead of the Europa League knockout round play-off match between Barcelona and Manchester United in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
(Image credit: Joan Valis/Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Barcelona (opens in new tab) manager Xavi says that he can't bear to hear the Champions League anthem, as he prepares his side for Thursday's Europa League knockout round play-off first leg against Manchester United (opens in new tab).

For the second season running, Barca crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage, this time finishing behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

As such, they'll once again have to continue their European campaign in the Europa League – where they were stunned by Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals last term.

And it appears that Xavi still hasn't entirely got over the Blaugrana's humiliating exit from football's top club competition back in November. Speaking ahead of United's visit to the Camp Nou, he said (opens in new tab):

"It still makes me angry to listen to the Champions League anthem from home. For history and greatness, we should be there."

The 43-year-old is under no illusions about the situation Barca find themselves in, though. He continued:

"But we have to face reality. We are excited about this competition [the Europa League], which has been very beautiful for the teams that have remained. It's always important, and more so in Europe, since we're coming off a few seasons without success. It's a good test, without a doubt, to see that we can compete in Europe."

As runaway La Liga leaders, Barca almost certainly won't need to win the Europa League in order to qualify for next season's Champions League – but they do have a great opportunity to lift their first continental trophy since being crowned champions of Europe in 2015.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...