Barcelona edge closer to Europa League for first time since 2004 following draw with Benfica

    Xavi takes charge of Barcelona

    Xavi Hernandez would take charge of his first Champions League tie as FC Barcelona manager on Tuesday.

    The former midfielder was recently appointed as La Blaugrana’s new boss and took charge of his first tie this past weekend.

    That game was against Espanyol and saw Barcelona come away with a 1-0 win thanks to a 48th minute penalty from Memphis Depay.

    Xavi’s second game as Barca manager was against Portuguese outfit Benfica on Tuesday evening in what was a crucial Champions League tie.

    Barcelona set for Europa League run?

    Barcelona headed into the game, which was at the Camp Nou, sat 2nd in Group E with six points. However, Benfica were only behind Barcelona by two points.

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    This may have seemed like some decent breathing space for the Spaniards, but it was not when you consider who Barca and Benfica face in their final CL group stage game of the campaign.

    Barcelona will take on Bayern Munich, who are top of Group E having won all five of their games so far whilst scoring 19 and conceding just three.

    Benfica, on the other hand, will take on a Dynamo Kyiv side who have amassed just one point from five outings so far.

    So, with Benfica likely to win their final game and Barcelona very likely to lose or draw, Xavi’s side needed a win on Tuesday.

    However, the Portuguese outfit were able to hold out for a 0-0 draw on the evening. This means that if Benfica win their final group tie, and Barcelona do not beat Bayern, the Spaniards will finish 3rd in their group and be forced to play in the Europa League for the first time since 2004.

    It was a less than impressive display from Barcelona who, despite controlling possession, created very few big chances and nearly lost the tie 1-0 but Nicolas Otamendi’s goal was ruled out by VAR.

    If Xavi was in any way uncertain about how big a task he was facing at Barcelona, Tuesday’s game highlighted the mammoth task facing him at his former club.

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