After an ignominious exit from the UEFA Champions League in December after a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich, Barcelona found themselves resigned to competing in Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League.
At the time, it was a sorry state of affairs for one of the continent’s most iconic clubs – a squad that seemed disinterested and incapable of winning, a manager that the squad were not responding to, and there seemed to be no way for the situation to be sorted out.
But with the recent appointment of club legend Xavi as manager, the Blaugrana have seen an upturn in form, finding themselves on course for a top-three finish in La Liga and they could even finish the season with silverware, with a favourable Europa League quarter-final tie against Eintracht Frankfurt to come soon.
On paper, Barcelona are the strongest team left in the competition, and have been tipped by many to go on and win the tournament, potentially capping a season that started so badly with a trophy.
Going into the business end of the season, Xavi’s side are in seriously impressive form, with eight wins in their last 10 games in all competitions, including a 4-0 El Clasico demolition of Real Madrid.
With the additions of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dani Alves, Ferran Torres, and Adama Traore in January, the club have a talented squad that could go all the way and make sure the season is one to remember for their fans.
La Liga side Villarreal won this tournament for the first time in their history last year – could another Spanish club win it this year? The odds of the Catalan club going all the way in the tournament are currently 13/8. But they could face some tough tests en route to the final, with some good sides who are capable of winning still left in this competition. Here, we take a look at those teams.