Everything Xavi Hernández had to say before the LaLiga Santander game against Atlético Madrid
The Catalan coach sat down in front of the press and talked about the upcoming fixture, the returning players and the sun annoying him.
FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández spoke to the press on the eve of the LaLiga Santader game against Atlético Madrid. Despite the fact that Barça are top of the table and have a huge advantage over Real Madrid in second, their last two games, against Girona and Getafe, have failed to convince and consecutive goalless draws have caused criticism to come in regarding the team’s creativity.
However, Xavi has been given a boost as it was revealed that both Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are fit to return to the squad and have been included in the list for the tie at Camp Nou.
Atlético arrive in great form, has a lot changed since the first game against the side? It’s a big, complicated game. Atlético are the most in-form team in terms of performances and results. They are playing well, they are a good side. Simeone is doing an extraordinary job. How they have rebuilt is amazing. They are in fantastic form, with players that generate a lot, such as Griezmann. They also have Koke, De Paul... Atlético are a team with a lot of personality; the coach the first of them all. They are a family.
You haven’t scored for three games... We haven’t won in two league games. It depends how you look at it. We have to go back to being recognisable, to having identity. It’s a moment to say that we are back. We have dropped off, we’ve had 2 or 3 games where we haven’t been at our best. But tomorrow is a perfect chance to say: we are going to win the league. It’s a game to react, win the league and confirm our top objective.
Lamine Yamal is in the squad at just 15-years-old. What chance does he have to play? He’s on the list, he has chances to play. We have given chances to a lot of young players and they can help us with the talent they have. In July he turns 16 but he is good 1vs1, passing and he’s strong. He could have a great future at the club.
Is this the way to convince him to stay? We focus on the here and now and he has trained with us this week, we like what we have seen and that is independent of his contractual situation. He is very talented.
Is this a key game to win the league? Yes. It would be a huge statement. But every game is at this stage. If we win on Sunday, Atlético will almost certainly be out of the race. But we can’t relax because both them and Real Madrid are in good form.
What do you think of the atmosphere that is being created regarding the potential return of Lionel Messi? I’m not focussed on those things. I care about training well. We can’t think about next year, about signings. I’m focussed on training and putting in a good performance against Atlético. It’s not the time to talk about Messi. We are not looking at next season.
Are Pedri and De Jong ready to start the game? Where is Dembélé? Dembélé is training with the group and Christensen is almost there too. Pedri and Frenkie are good and we’ll see who starts and who doesn’t. But the important thing is that we have almost everyone back.
Has Laporta said anything about his talk with Ceferin? He said everything is OK and there is nothing to worry about. He gives us confidence so I’m calm.
Another game at 16:15 (local time). Are you annoyed about the criticism you received for saying you’re not used to playing in the sun? I get criticised for everything. I’m not going to stop. The sun annoys us, a dry pitch does not help us. If the question is for Quique: why didn’t the pitch get watered and why was it longer than usual? I’m not going to stop until there are rules in place. In golf, if the grass isn’t OK, they don’t play. In basketball, if LeBron James falls over, they clean the floor. I don’t have to keep quiet and I have be insistent on this. Here you can play with puddles on the pitch. Who is that good for? The surface is fundamental for the sport. They say kids don’t watch football anymore. That’s normal. I don’t care about the 200,000 memes. I’m not going to stop.
What book would you gift to Simeone?
(tomorrow in Spain it is tradition in Cataluña to gift books, which is why the seemingly random question has been asked)
I don’t know, that’s tough. Despite what you might think, I have a lot of admiration for Cholo. What he’s done is amazing. Although we have different ideas, different models, I admire him.
How are the team in terms of morale? We’re good, motivated and focussed on tomorrow. We trained well, we feel good, we have players back fit and we want to show the best version of ourselves.
How important is Pedri’s return? He links well with Lewandowski, they get on well. It’s good news for the whole team. Pedri is a creative player, he helps us. Frenkie as well. They help us to be recognisable but we have had great games without them, too. At the end of the day, it’s all about the style, the playing model. We’re in a privileged position in the league.
What if you let the league slip? Well tomorrow we have a game. If we lose it will be our fault.