Xavi: "Barcelona are in the Europa League but Napoli are a Champions League rival"
Barcelona and Napoli are vying for a place in the Europa League, but Xavi believes the Italian side have shown Champions League qualities.
Barcelona head coach Xavi wants his side to prove they can compete in Europe by defeating "Champions League rival" Napoli.
Barca were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off tie last Thursday after spurning numerous chances at Camp Nou.
Indeed, Ferran Torres had nine shots against Luciano Spalletti's side, a tally surpassed only once by a player in a European game for the club in the last 10 seasons (Lionel Messi when he had 11 against Juventus in December 2020).
History favours Napoli heading into the second leg as they have only ever lost one home game against Spanish sides in European competition (W6 D3), and Xavi is expecting another difficult challenge.
He told reporters at Wednesday's pre-match media conference: "Barça has been great with a specific model. They've been losing it a bit and we're on the way to recovering it.
"Tomorrow [Thursday] is a litmus test to know where we are. We are in the Europa League, but Napoli are a Champions League rival.
"It will be a battle of who has the ball and possession. It's Europe and it's difficult, but it's a good test to prove that Barça can compete in Europe."
Xavi also suggested that the homegrown talent from La Masia will be key for the Blaugrana's success, both now and in future.
"We count on the academy a lot," he added. The players give a lot of commitment. We have won titles when we have had people from [our academy].
"That's why the talents of Gavi, Nico or [Ronald] Araújo or the older players like [Sergio] Busquets or [Gerard] Piqué are important.
"We are seeing that players who are 17 or 18 years old can make a difference."
Barça are battling it out with Atletico Madrid for the final spot in Spain's top four and a place in next season's Champions League, currently sat on 42 points while boasting a game in hand.
But Xavi believes the results for his side have not matched some of their performances this campaign. "If you let me choose, I want to play well and win," he continued. "Playing well and getting good results. There have been games, with me as coach, where we played well and didn't win.
"We are growing and this is about results. The results are matching our performances around 50 per cent of the time."
To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?