The clash against Atletico Madrid was one that Barcelona had airmarked on their calendar. The Blaugranes have been struggling to find rhythm this season, but they finally seem to be making progress. Consistency is key in football, and the Catalans are fully aware of this.
As such, beyond just a positive scoreline, Barcelona needed an improved performance. Ultimately, the Catalan giants managed to secure both through a convincing victory over Diego Simeone’s side.
Xavi’s Barcelona seem to finally be on the right path, and Atletico could be the perfect opponent to start that new journey.
Following the game, the Barcelona coach was full of nothing but praise for his team, as highlighted by SPORT. For Xavi, some extremely expressive statements defined just how important this victory was and how satisfied he was with it.
Calling it his side’s “best match of the season”, it was pretty clear that the Spanish coach was more than happy. For him, Barcelona must continue in this manner and considers it a step forward and one that is in the right direction.
Highlighting the victory against Porto previously and referring to it, Xavi explains how it helped his team grow:
“The victory against Porto was crucial. The players have grown. There are moments in the season when you’re not on target, and today the team was excellent.”
The Barcelona coach then went on to highlight his three midfielders against Atletico and their incredible performance:
“In duels, in pressuring after losing possession, in circulation, the players inside – Gündogan, Pedri, and Frenkie – understood each other very well. The work from those upfront was also very good.”
However, the Catalan coach believes Barcelona should have worked on their final conversion. Unable to add any more goals following their opener, the Barça coach was particularly unconvinced due to this particular ineffectiveness:
“It’s (effectiveness) the only thing that failed because it was a game to win comfortably. In the end, we could have ended up drawing. That’s football… We generated chances, arrived well, had a final counterattack to seal the game. But we could have done it much earlier. We lack effectiveness to finish games.”
On the other hand, the former Barcelona player did not forget to mention the man of the moment. Courtesy of the goal by Joao Felix, Barcelona were able to win this game. However, a lot of controversy and spotlight was on the player heading into it as well:
“He has the need to prove himself, hence the reaction. When you’re heated, you react like that; it’s normal. It’s good for us that he’s motivated, rebellious… He has once again made a difference.”
The 43-year-old coach did not forget to heap praise towards Inaki Pena as well. In terms of his influence, the Spanish goalkeeper was absolutely vital in keeping Atletico Madrid at bay:
“When you train so well, you have that performance. There are no secrets. He saved us again with two extraordinary stops. Incredible!”
Another player who invoked Xavi to send praise towards him was Jules Kounde. The Frenchman acted as the primary right-back on the night, and his exceptional performance did not go unnoticed by the Barcelona coach:
“Koundé is extraordinary, as he was last year. He will change with Araujo depending on the opponent.”
Barcelona will now enjoy almost a week-long period of rest before their next game. Taking on one of the most in-form teams in Spain, Barça will face off against Michel’s Girona at the Montjuic Stadium up next.