·24 February 2023
·24 February 2023
Barcelona saw their hopes of winning the UEFA Europa League this season crash and burn as they were eliminated by Manchester United in the knockout playoff stages last night at Old Trafford.
Having played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Camp Nou, Barcelona started well away from home in the first half and took an early lead. But a spirited second-half comeback from the hosts became the Blaugrana’s undoing as they lost 2-1 on the night (4-3 on aggregate).
It was yet another disappointing exit from European competition for Barça and speaking after the game, defender Ronald Araujo acknowledged that there needs to be a change in mentality in the team if they are to go the distance in Europe.
“European competitions are important, Barcelona must compete for all the titles. We have to change our mentality,” the Uruguayan international said.
At the same time, the centre-back added that the team must remain positive and not lose sight of where they are in La Liga and Copa del Rey, saying: “We have to be positive, it is true that we are out of the Europa League but we are first in the league and we have the Copa del Rey.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets echoed the sentiments of manager Xavi and said that the team did well in the first period but could not cope with United after the break.
“I think we started very well, we scored our goal and we had chances to make it 2-0, the second half they came in better, they are a great opponent, we tried until the end,” the midfielder said.
“It was a tied game and we were competing, and because of small details we are knocked out,” he added. “Apart from the intensity, we were good today.”
Jules Kounde also spoke to the media after the disheartening elimination and said that he was disappointed with the outcome of the game and apologised to the supporters for the same.
“A very painful elimination. We are very disappointed,” he said. “I’m sorry for the fans and the team, because the goal was to win the Europa League.”
The Frenchman acknowledged Manchester United’s superior performance in the second period, saying: “I think we have to praise the opponent. They pressed us in the second half, we suffered, and it’s true that we’re frustrated.”
However, the summer signing was confident that things will be better for Barça in Europe next year, as he said: “We have to take a step forward and I’m sure we’ll do that next year.”
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