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BARCELONA

Xavi’s pre-match press conference before Barcelona’s Champions League game against Porto

The boss of the Catalan side spoke ahead of a crucial European game for Barcelona, who are in a difficult moment of form.

Update:
The boss of the Catalan side spoke ahead of a crucial European game for Barcelona, who are in a difficult moment of form.
JOSE JORDANAFP

Ahead of Barcelona’s key game against Porto in the Champions League, Xavi spoke to the press about what he hoped would be “a magical night” at the Montjuïc stadium, while admitting that it was a “hugely significant game” and that the side have “a lot on the line”.

Barcelona are entering into a crucial week for their season and long-term project with Xavi Hernández at the helm. Results have been satisfactory yet the performances have not been up to scratch, with the players struggling to create while showing themselves to have plenty of gaps at the back.

The game on Tuesday against Porto in the Champions League (KO 3 p.m. ET / noon PT.) is a chance for Xavi to reassert himself as the man to lead the side and the perfect manager to get Barça back and firing once again. He hasn’t, however, been handed a magic wand from a divine power, as first choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was absent from training just 48 hours ahead of the tie, another addition to the list of first team players who have suffered physically this season.

‘We failed at the high press, the counter-press, intensity and mentality’

“It’s a game where we can qualify as group leader”, an optimistic Xavi said, “it’s a hugely important game for us”. It is always a nice thing to know that the first question of a press conference will indeed be about the game, but let’s be honest, the second question is always more enjoyable.

Once the niceties had finished, the shuriken started flying: firstly, a question on his playing style. “Things in general aren’t working well, but watching the game again versus Rayo, I think it was good. We lack a little continuity. We need to play better for longer, like in the second half against Rayo or the first 60 of the Clásico. The group is together, there’s no issue.”

Xavi, after having called the first half “good”, said that the diagnosis of what went wrong against Rayo, where Barça could only scrape a point due to an own goal from Florian Lejeune, was clear. “We transmitted it to the players”, he said, before listing the quite fundamental problems “we failed at the high press, the counter-press, intensity and mentality”.

Xavi’s pre-match press conference before Barcelona’s Champions League game against Porto

‘I have the confidence of the President and Deco’

In terms of the mentality, the coach criticised the fact that over recent weeks, Barcelona have won either by slim margins or with resounding comebacks: “we only react when there is urgency, in the final few minutes. You have to be self-critical, but it’s part of the process. The players are happy with the system and tomorrow could be a turning point. It’s the chance to qualify for the next round as group leaders.”

“This is Barcelona”, he continued, “we play for so much. The results will mark the way the season will go. In a month we’ve got the Super Cup and you’ll ask me the same thing. Nothing changes. This is the pressure of being at Barça. We want to compete in the best way possible.”

The coach was asked about referees, to which he responded that his side were unlucky in terms of the decisions but “it is not an excuse, I don’t protect myself with excuses”, right before saying “refereeing decisions have also affected us”. I’ll just leave that there and we can move on with. our lives.

I want you, the reader, to finish the sentence: “I don’t feel alone because I have the confidence of the President and Deco, I have staff who have confidence and I have players who...

... any ideas?

Laporta has always publicly backed Xavi as head coach of Barcelona.
Full screen
Laporta has always publicly backed Xavi as head coach of Barcelona.ISABEL INFANTESREUTERS

“Are trying”.

If you said “have confidence”, then I’m afraid you’re wrong. Hard luck.

Xavi continued: “Last year things didn’t go so well [during the season] but they ended up finishing well. That’s why I think things will end up being OK.”

As for Ter Stegen, Xavi assured that on the day of the game he will try to be fit, although “he was hardly able to train”, which is not great news for the number one shot stopper in the squad,

Back on the question of mentality, the coach said that the side must “start games better. We have given away a lot this season. We have less points in the league but we’re doing better in the Champions League. We have to give less away in the league.”

Barça must be more ‘generous and humble’, says Xavi

“The same players are last season have played well in tough games”, Xavi said, before manifesting, “we have to believe the good play and results will come, and they will. Tomorrow is a final and we can’t fail”.

“I’m very critical with the players”, he continued, “in the videos, talks. We have to demand a lot. We’re not at the same level we were one or two months ago. We have to press more, get our intensity back, have a winning mentality. He have shown it. Now we’ve dropped off a little.”

Then Xavi’s gaze may have slipped and the manager instead started reading from his New Year’s Resolutions list tagged onto the bottom of the tactics diagrams: “We have to be more humble and generous as of tomorrow”.

The game between Barcelona and Porto will be played on Tuesday, November 28, with kick off at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT.

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