De Jong: Europa League not win-or-bust for Barcelona

By Sports Desk March 09, 2022

Frenkie de Jong has insisted that missing out on Europa League glory this season would not be considered a failure for Barcelona.

The Catalan giants are more accustomed to challenging in the Champions League, but they missed out on a place in the knockout stages for the first time since 2003-04.

Barca passed their first test in UEFA's secondary club competition by overcoming Serie A title contenders Napoli 5-3 on aggregate last month to reach the last 16.

Xavi's side face Galatasaray next, with the first leg to take place at Camp Nou on Thursday, and are considered favourites to go all the way and lift the trophy in May.

However, De Jong does not believe there is any extra pressure on his side to live up to their billing as competition favourites, even if it is their last hope of silverware this term.

"We want to be in the Champions League but that's not the case at the moment," he said at a pre-match news conference on Wednesday. 

"Now we want to win the Europa League. But it wouldn't be a failure to miss out on the title, because there are good teams, though of course the goal is to win the competition.

"Normally we push for all the titles and if we reinforce ourselves well, I'm sure that next season we'll fight for everything."

Barca have lost just two of their last 35 home matches in the knockout rounds of major European competitions and have only been beaten in one of their previous eight meetings with Gala.

They enter the tie in great form thanks to a run of eight games without defeat in all competitions, winning six of those – including each of the last four.

"I think we've been doing very well lately, creating a lot of chances," De Jong said. "We want to improve and continue in this dynamic.

"I feel good. We are in a good moment. I feel comfortable and I want to continue and improve."

De Jong has featured 33 times in all competitions for Barca this season, a tally bettered only by Marc-Andre ter Stegen (34) and Sergio Busquets (36).

The Netherlands international has come in for criticism at times, but he has found some form with two goals and an assist in his last four appearances.

"I don't know if it's my best version, you can always improve," De Jong said when asked about his recent displays.

"When people criticise me it doesn't hurt, but many people aren't watching the games, and that's why they talk. People believe journalists who say things, and that's the problem."

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