FC Barcelona have been able to qualify for the knock-out rounds of the UEFA Champions League after a gap of two years.
In the last two editions, the Catalans finished third in their group and thus were relegated to the Europa League, which was something almost unthinkable for a club of Barcelona’s stature.
However, the Catalans have improved significantly this season, and this is showcased by their advancement to the Round of 16 of the Champions League.
But this qualification now naturally leads to anxiety about the even difficult stages of the tournament, and there is already speculation on which sides the Catalans can face in the next round.
In this regard, a question was also put to Xavi Hernandez after the match against Porto, which has been reported by SPORT. The Barcelona head coach was asked to name one team that he would want to avoid in the next round, and his response left almost everyone in the press room surprised:
“Meeting Porto again? I wouldn’t like it if we advance to the quarter-finals. They are tough, very strong opponents. Today, we’ve beaten a very important rival.”
There are other very difficult teams in the competition that might be more troublesome than Porto, but Xavi complemented the Portuguese club in a way with these comments.
The victory last night was important not only because it paved the club’s way to the knock-out rounds, but also because it puts FC Barcelona in the pole position to finish first in the group, and thus get a weaker rival in the Round of 16.
Getting only a single point against Royal Antwerp will ensure Barcelona’s first position, as Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto both are three points behind the Catalan club as things stand now.