Paul Scholes predicts who Man Utd will get in Europa League play-off & names side he’d ‘love’ to draw

The ex-Manchester United midfielder wants the Red Devils to get the toughest draw possible.

Paul Scholes has said he would ‘love’ Manchester United to draw Barcelona in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The Red Devils will face a Champions League drop-out in a two-legged tie in February, with the winner progressing to the last-16 of the Europa League. A 1-0 victory for United against Real Sociedad on Thursday meant they finished second in their group and failed to take top spot, a scenario that would have seen Erik ten Hag’s side automatically qualify for the next stage of the competition.

United will discover who they’ll face on Monday, but it will be one of Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon, RB Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla or Juventus. Scholes feels Barcelona are the strongest side and therefore wants United to draw them in the next stage, although he predicted fate will see Ten Hag travel back to face his old side in the new year.

“I’d love them to play against Barca,” the former midfielder said in Thursday’s post-match coverage on BT Sport. “It just gets the juices flowing, just gets the atmosphere going at both grounds and I think they can beat them.

“But Barcelona, on the other hand, are a really good team. They’re probably the only one who I think you’d want to avoid - as much as I want to play against them. I just have a feeling they’re going to get Ajax.

“I think those other teams, United are more than capable of beating,” he added. “Sevilla have great experience, Juve are a big club but are struggling.”

However, Owen Hargreaves, also present in the studio, had a differing opinion from his old team-mate. “I’m not like Scholesy, I want to avoid Barca because that could be a really tough game,” he said.

“They’re all good football sides with good football managers; Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar. I’ll be honest, there are no easy ones. Sporting were great in Tottenham’s group. But in the end, I still think they [United] are favourites whoever they play, outside of Barca.”