United warmed up for their quarter-final second leg with Barca on Tuesday night with a stuttering 2-1 victory over West Ham at Old Trafford.
Penalties from Paul Pogba either side of Felipe Anderson’s equaliser were enough for just a second win in six games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
However, they were poor for large periods and go to the Nou Camp with a mountain to climb as they need to overturn a one-goal deficit.
United proved they are capable of upsetting the odds after knocking Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
But De Gea is demanding a much better performance when they face Barca and admits it is a tough ask for the players.
“Of course it’s difficult, but if you want to be a top team you have to play big Champions League games, and the weekend after it’s the Premier League,” he said.
“So you have to be focused and ready for a difficult game again. I think today we didn’t play well, we have to improve a lot and now we have a big challenge on Tuesday.
“We will try to fight and win the game. We can go with more confidence after the three points.
“It’s a big challenge, a special occasion, in Spain, against Barcelona, a Champions League night, so it’s going to be an amazing game.
“We’re happy with the win, but at the same time we have to improve a lot.”
On United’s bid for a top-four place, De Gea said: “It’s nothing to the end now, just five games, a difficult schedule, difficult games.
“We need to be really focused, give 100 per cent every game and try to win all of them.”
United boss Solskjaer conceded his side ‘got away with it’ against West Ham after the visitors fell victim to a number of controversial decisions.
“They played better than us, it is fair to say, I don’t think anyone will disagree,” the Norwegian said.
“Sometimes you get more than you deserve and today is one of those nights.”
Solskjaer also hailed De Gea after his superb save from Michail Antonio effectively handed them all three points.
“[We were] lucky it wasn’t Barcelona but West Ham played well, played better than us,” Solskjaer added.
“We have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. That save is unbelievable.
“He won us the game because at 2-1 we would have struggled to create enough.
“We got away with it, got three points. In a few years no-one will remember how we played if we finished in the top four.”
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