Scholes, Hargreaves disagree over who they want Man Utd to face in Europa League play-off tie

Joe Williams
Man Utd legend Paul Scholes looks off camera

Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves disagree over who they want Man Utd to face in their Europa League knockout round play-off tie.

The Red Devils knew only a win by a two-goal margin or more against Real Sociedad on Thursday night would secure them top spot in Group E.

Alejandro Garnacho opened the scoring on 17 minutes at the Reale Arena and that was to be the only goal of the game as Man Utd had to settle for second place, behind Sociedad.

That means Man Utd will now need to win a play-off against one of the Champions League drop-outs to reach the last-16 of the Europa League.

Potential opponents include Barcelona, Juventus and Erik ten Hag’s former side Ajax with the draw set to take place on November 7 at midday.

And Scholes wants Man Utd to face La Liga giants Barcelona in the play-off despite knowing they are more than capable of knocking the Red Devils out.

“Who do you want to avoid… I think Barca, I’d love to draw them, I’ve said it a few times, I’d love them to play against Barca, just to get the juices going, gets the atmosphere going at either ground,” Scholes told BT Sport.

“I think they’re capable of beating Barcelona. On the other hand, they’re a really good team, we know that.

“They’re probably the only one who I’d think you would want to avoid, as much as I want to play against them.”

But former Man Utd midfielder Hargreaves would like to see Barcelona against the Red Devils in the final.

“I’m not like Scholesey, I hope they avoid Barca,” Hargreaves said.

“Get Barca in the final, don’t want to play Barca because that could be a really hard game.

“But they’re all really good sides, good footballing sides, with good managers, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar… I’ll be honest, there’s no easy one. Sporting were great in Tottenham’s group.

“No easy ones, they’ve made it a little bit more difficult than it needed to be but in the end I think they’re favourites, regardless of who they play outside of Barcelona.”

Man Utd now face back-to-back matches against Aston Villa in the Premier League and League Cup before they travel to Fulham in their final match before the World Cup break.

And Portugal international Bruno Fernandes wants to concentrate on those games before looking ahead to potential Europa League opponents.

When asked if he’d been made aware of their potential play-off opponents, Fernandes replied: “We don’t need to look at that because our main goal was to go first, so we could avoid that (play-off).

“Now we have to play against one of them but that’s no problem for us if we want to win the competition.

“We have to fight good teams in any moment of the competition so sooner or later we will be ready for that.”

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