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Xavi: “We have faith in Iñaki Peña, there’s no need to sign anyone”

The Barcelona coach spoke to the media before Sunday’s home meeting against second-placed Girona.

The Barcelona coach spoke to the media before Sunday’s home meeting against second-placed Girona.
Alejandro GarciaEFE

Xavi took questions from the media on Saturday, to look ahead to tomorrow’s clash against regional rivals Girona. After Real Madrid were held Betis, Sunday’s game at the Lluís Companys will be an opportunity for both teams to gain ground at the top of the table - Girona are second, just one point behind Madrid and Barça are five points behind in third.

How will you be confronting tomorrow’s game against Girona?

They have been joint-leaders with Madrid and for us, they haven’t been a big surprise. Their style is similar to ours, they have a great coach and we can only congratulate them because what they’re doing is extraordinary. They are a very difficult opponent. We will try to push hard and we are going into the game from a good dynamic, which we will try to continue on Sunday.

With Ter Stegen injured, will you be signing a goalkeeper?

It is not a question of signing a goalkeeper. We have confidence in who we have, we trust in Iñaki and the other goalkeepers we have in the squad.

What did last week’s win against Atlético mean to the team?

It was good for morale and to give us an injection of confidence. We have two finals - another one tomorrow. For us, Girona is a direct rival. They have a four-point lead over us. Hopefully we can give a similar display to last week’s against Atlético.

Is this a game that is particularly stimulating for you?

Our game doesn’t vary that much. Girona’s, I don’t know. Last season at the Montilivi they played a low block against us but then they pressed when we met here. This season they have more individual talent and in general is a better team.

Do you see Girona with options to battle for LaLiga right up to the end?

They can aspire to win it, of course. They’ve shown that already. I like how they attack, without fear -they are brave and that has enabled to get where they are now.

What is your opinion on fear clauses - are you in favor or against them?

I’d answer yes. I’m in favor. I don’t think one of our players should be allowed to play against us. How must Atlético be feeling after last week?

Do you think Pau Cubarsíis ready to make the leap to the first team?

If he’s in list or training with the senior squad it must be for something. He’s ready, he has a high level, tactically he reads the game well, he’s good at conducting the ball out, he’s aggressive... He’s ready.

Does the baby boom at Barça have anything to do with winning the league last season?

I hope there is a baby boom. That would be great, like when Iniesta came through back in the day.

How do you see the two Joãos?

We’re happy with both of them. They have adapted well and are performing well. Of course we’d like to count on them beyond this season.

Do you think Míchel’s preparing himself to coach a big club?

I’m sure he is - Míchel and all of the coaches in the category are. Being at a big club is more demanding but he is up to the task.

Is there some kind of black magic behind so many injuries?

We’ve had a few setbacks but so have a lot of other clubs. These things happen. All of the top clubs in Europe have injury problems. It’s the fixtures calendar, playing a lot of demanding games - that’s the cause.

What would you say to Oriol Romeu now that he has lost prominence in the side?

I’d tell him to keep training hard and not let his work rate dip. I always cite Iñaki Peña as an example. A year ago, he wasn’t playing at all and now he is in the team and he’s ready. Oriol needs to keep working, another opportunity will come up.

Would you tell Laporta to go all out to sign Joao Félix?

I’d love to but those things have to be negotiated. There’s Deco, the president... other people involved and besides, it’s too early for that.

What’s the difference between your Barça and Girona?

Perhaps how we conduct the ball out, the high press. We always want to press high and they sometimes play a low block. But we’re looking to do the same thing - have the ball and attack but the variants also depend on what players you have.