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UEFA Europa League Matchday: Barcelona FC vs Manchester United FC

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They’re two members of European football’s aristocracy who, not so long ago, were meeting in Champions League finals.

Now Barcelona and Manchester United are going head-to-head in the unlikely confines of a Europa League playoff match.

Not that they are playing like also-rans of the continent.

“At the end of the day, we don’t deserve to be in the Champions League and neither do they. But the level is still very high,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Wednesday.

Indeed, the clubs with two of the biggest followings in world football are in a good place on the field, especially considering the plight they have found themselves in recent years.

Barcelona is emerging, very slowly, from a crippling financial crisis that cost the club Lionel Messi and plenty more. Its economic situation is still grave — Barcelona’s latest accounts show the club is more than 650 million USD in debt, hardly helped by a group-stage exit from the Champions League — but the team is performing so well that it has an 11-point lead in the Spanish league.

United, meanwhile, is rising in the Premier League and could win its first trophy in six years when meeting Newcastle in the final of the English League Cup later this month.

In that sense, both teams have reason to believe they will be back competing at the top of European football soon.

UEFA Europa League Live Streaming: In India, Sony Sports Network will broadcast the Live TV telecast of the UEFA Europa League matches like Barcelona vs Manchester United on February 16. You can also live stream the UEFA Europa League 2023 on JioTV, Sony LIV App, and Airtel XStream on your mobile. Barcelona vs Manchester United will start at 11:15 PM IST on Thursday.