Barcelona are not a club who plan or generally aspire to win the Europa League, but another disappointing Champions League campaign sees them drop into the competition for a second successive season.
It does give them the chance to complete the traditional set of major European honours, though, so there should be a little extra motivation to make a serious challenge.
Here’s how Barcelona can win the 2022/23 Europa League.
Barcelona have never actually won the Europa League, even back when it was the UEFA Cup. They won’t have been planning on winning it this season either.
It was only a second successive Champions League failure that has given them the chance to add the trophy to their already extensive roll of honours, and head coach Xavi says that now they are in it, they are in it to win it.
Speaking after dropping into the Europa League, Xavi told the press: “It’s a challenge, we are going to try and win it.”
If they are going to win it, they will have to start their campaign in style after they were drawn against Manchester United in a blockbuster knockout stage play-off tie. The Red Devils failed to top their group, leaving them having to fight a Champions league dropout for a spot in the Europa League last 16.
Barcelona will probably feel like they have a point to prove in Europe, though. They invested heavily in the summer to put themselves in a position to challenge for the Champions League, but all that amounted to Viktoria Plzen being the only team they could beat in this season’s competition.
The clubs have not faced each other since 2019 when Barcelona won both legs in their Champions League quarter-final clash. It will also be their first meeting outside of the Champions League since the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup final.
Barcelona will have home advantage at the first leg. They have only ever won once before at Old Trafford, so they will be keen to make that first leg count.
When is Barcelona vs Man Utd?
The first leg will take place at Camp Nou on 16 February 2023, with the reverse fixture just a week later on 23 February.
If Barcelona can come through their play-off against Man Utd, things are unlikely to get any easier for them from there.
Arsenal, Real Betis, Fenerbahce, Ferencvaros, Feyenoord, Freiburg, Real Sociedad and Union Saint-Gilloise have already qualified for the last 16 by virtue of winning their Europa League groups.
The real dangers may be come from the other clubs in the play-offs, though. Juventus, Ajax, Sporting, Sevilla, Roma, Bayer Leverkusen and PSV Eindhoven are all still potential obstacles for Barcelona standing between then and a first Europa League title.
The 2022/23 UEFA Europa League final will take place at Budapest’s 65,000 capacity Puskas Arena on 31 May 2023.
It was only opened in 2019 and was the venue for the 2020 UEFA Super Cup, in which Bayern beat Sevilla 2-1, and it was also used for matches in Euro 2020.