Xavi does not believe Barcelona is the favorite to win the Europa League as they prepare to face Napoli in a play-off first leg on Thursday.

The Blaugrana’s run of 17 successive years competing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League came to a halt when they finished third behind Bayern Munich and Benfica in Group E.

Barca will battle with Serie A side Napoli for a place in the round of 16 in their first experience of playing in Europe’s secondary club competition in its current guise.

Head coach Xavi spoke of his anger over the Catalan giants’ elimination from the Champions League but did not feel they should be expected to lift the Europa League. On Wednesday, he told reporters: “I wouldn’t say we are favorites. We’re going for the two titles, but we’re up against a difficult opponent.”Sevilla has much more experience than us in this competition. I see us as candidates, not favorites, but in the tie.”

Napoli is third in Serie A after holding champions Inter to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Xavi knows Barca faces a big challenge as they attempt to advance at the expense of Luciano Spalletti’s side.” We could perfectly see this tie in the Champions League. They are an excellent team,” he said.”Napoli is a compact team with a very experienced coach. They work well in moving the ball and pressing high up the pitch.”They’re going to make it difficult for us; they want the ball. They also defend well in low blocks and have top-class players.”

Xavi has found it painful to see Champions League matches knowing Barca is out of the competition but considers the Europa League as a chance to add a new trophy to the club’s haul. He said: “It’s one more motivation to win a title that we don’t have. It makes me very angry to listen to the music of the Champions League and not be there.”

The Barca boss revealed he could give Sergio Busquets a rest and hinted he might be ready to unleash Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the start. He said of the Gabon striker: “Now he is 100 percent, and we will see him play safely. He is a player capable of playing space, going down to receive and unload.”I am thrilled with him, and he is very professional and very positive within the group.”