Ronaldo is set to face Barcelona for the 35th time in his career when the Catalan club take on Manchester United in the Europa League.
Cristiano Ronaldo can still make the difference ahead of Barcelona and Manchester United’s Europa League tie, according to Barca manager Xavi Hernandez.
Xavi, who played 28 times against Ronaldo during his playing days, will face the Real Madrid icon for the first time as a coach when his Barcelona side take on United in February’s Europa League playoff round.
“He seems to me to be a great player, who has marked an era in world football and can still make a difference,” Xavi said in a press conference about Ronaldo after Monday’s draw.
"He's a fantastic player — one of the best in recent times and he can still make a difference."
— 🎙 Xavi on Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo pic.twitter.com/l7ktX144yO
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 7, 2022
‘It’s the worst draw we could have gotten’
This season has been unusually difficult for Ronaldo, especially by his own high standards. The forward has struggled to win favor under new United manager Erik ten Hag regularly; managing just three goals and two assists in 16 games across all competitions.
Yet, Xavi feels the team itself has made progress since the Dutchman took charge in the summer.
“It’s the most difficult opponent once again,” he said.
“We are looking forward to it. They are a historic side. They have grown a lot since Ten Hag’s arrival, and have great players. It’s the worst draw we could have gotten.”
Xavi was speaking ahead to Barcelona’s LaLiga trip to Osasuna on Tuesday evening.