Casemiro joined Manchester United last summer from Real Madrid AFP / Oli SCARFF

FC Barcelona continue to struggle in European competitions with their latest setback coming through their Europa League exit at the hands of Manchester United on Thursday evening. The Catalan giants collapsed in the second half at Old Trafford, and manager Xavi Hernandez admitted that he congratulated former Real Madrid players Raphael Varane and Casemiro after the match.

Even though they now play for the Red Devils, Xavi apparently sees the two players differently perhaps due to their long association with Barcelona's biggest rivals. In his post-match press conference after bowing out of the competition, he admitted that he sought them out for a quick word: "I spoke to Casemiro and Varane. I have respect for United and congratulations to them."

This is the second season in a row that Xavi has failed to lead Barcelona out of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. They had hoped to dominate the Europa League, but fate had other plans. It is a humiliating exit for a club like Barcelona, whose fan base expects it to consistently be fighting for trophies both domestically and in Europe.

The Blaugrana arrived at Old Trafford coming off a 2-2 draw in the first leg played at the Camp Nou. The second leg looked promising after Robert Lewandowski put the Catalans ahead with a penalty in the 18th minute. However, Fred quickly found an equaliser almost as soon as the second half started.

Barcelona appeared to have been shaken by Fred's goal and were never able to recover. It was only a matter of time before Antony scored the winner for United which sent them through to the last 16.

Xavi was humble in defeat and admitted his side's weaknesses: "That first goal hurts us. The duels cost us in the second half. They had more intensity," he said, as quoted by Football Espana.

The early Europa League exit will once again be a massive financial blow for Barcelona, who already missed out on millions of revenue for dropping out of the Champions League. This will not help their financial standing heading into the new season, especially with a fresh scandal breaking out over the "Caso Negreira."

Nevertheless, it's not a complete disaster yet as the club finds itself leading La Liga by eight points. Winning the league might help pacify the club's fans and sponsors, all of whom are growing agitated over the current situation.