Xavi talks Gavi, Ter Stegen, Cancelo, Roque, ahead of Unionistas vs Barcelona

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Xavi Hernandez during the press conference prior to the league match against Real Madrid, in Barcelona, on 27th October 2023.
Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ahead of the match against Unionistas de Salamanca, Xavi Hernandez faces a particularly difficult point in his career as the FC Barcelona head coach.

This match in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 comes right after the Catalan team’s loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, and Xavi will have to put things right in this match at all costs.

A lot of questions have arisen about Xavi’s continued presence on the Barcelona bench because of this last defeat, and this subject took a significant part of the former midfielder’s press conference ahead of the match on Thursday. The main highlights of this press conference are as follows:

Xavi started the presser with an analysis of the upcoming match against Unionistas:

“What we need to do is change our mindset; it’s a different competition now. It’s clear that we are the favorites, but we have to prove it.”

“They are very focused, and have potential, and we’ve also analyzed the match here against Barcelona B, where they won 0-2. For them, it’s the game of their lives. It will be a tough match, but we have hope in this competition.”

The head coach also shared what Laporta had conveyed to him in the last meeting between them:

“He comes every now and then. He comes to cheer and brings joy. He comes to contribute; that’s the reality I see. If there are people who see it differently, it’s not my problem.”

“Faith and confidence in the staff and the players, this is what they have conveyed to us.”

Xavi clarified that he still has the player’s confidence, and he would walk away from the club if he starts feeling that the players no longer trust him:

“The day I feel they are not with me, I will pack my things and leave. It’s time to turn the page and start anew. We did things very wrong the other day, and we want to do them right. The day they feel I am not adding value, I will leave home without any problems.”

The former midfielder also clarified the goals that the team had set for itself this season:

“It has always been the goal, and I have said it. When they signed me, they asked me to be fourth, and we achieved that. Last year, the goal was to win the League and the Supercup, surpassing expectations. This year the goal is to win important titles, the Cup, the League, or the Champions League.”

“If the objectives are not met, I will be the first to say that I haven’t met them and I will leave. That’s my reality. I believe we are much closer to success than to defeat. Despite losing the Supercup, I believe victory is closer. What happens outside, I can’t control.”

“I have always stated the objectives. The first one this year was to reach the Champions League round of 16, and it has been achieved. If the goals are not met this year, we will go home, but as it happens with all coaches, it doesn’t change with me.”

Xavi also analyzed the team’s problems in the match against Real Madrid: “The other day, we gave away too many opportunities. We need to be decisive in both penalty areas, yes. It’s difficult, but we will work harder to avoid making these mistakes.”

The Barcelona head coach shared his delight at receiving support from his former coach Pep Guardiola and President Joan Laporta:

“Firstly, I want to thank Pep. I’ve already sent him a message thanking him; he knows the difficulty of this position. Today, I am very happy about the president’s presence and his optimism. ‘Tots units fem força’ (Together, we are strong).”

Xavi was quite optimistic about the team’s chances to win some silverware despite the criticism he has faced:

“All opinions seem respectable to me. When the club came to sign me in Qatar, they told me we were in a complicated moment, and we revitalized it. I am calm, with three titles ahead and the same enthusiasm as the first day. I know where I am, I know the club perfectly.”

“Take heart, this continues, three titles remain, and we didn’t compete well in the final. Cheer up, three titles are still on the line. Real Madrid was in a different position last year and ended up winning the Cup. So, let’s go for it.”

When asked about the reaction of the fans, Xavi claimed that he was encouraged by their response:

“The fans give me encouragement. After the final the other day, I understand the disappointment, but they give me encouragement and tell me that three titles are still there.”

Xavi insisted that a lot of conclusions cannot be drawn from the match against Real Madrid, and his team is going in the right direction:

“We cannot take this Supercopa final as an example. Since November 2021 when we took over the team until now, the team has evolved a lot.”

The former midfielder understood that the club was going through a difficult time economically, but took encouragement from the fact that his team was alive in three competitions this season:

“Barça couldn’t afford it; we’ll have to find a way to compete. It would be very hard to digest, in fact, it already is. We have to understand that we are in one of the most challenging situations in the club’s history.”

“I am a Culé and want to pull the cart, but we have to understand that the economic situation is difficult. Nevertheless, we are alive in La Liga, we are in the Champions League Round of 16, and tomorrow we play to be in the quarter-finals of the Copa Del Rey.”

Xavi admitted that injuries to some key players have hurt the team, but insisted that no compromise will be made on the objectives set:

“Gavi’s injury is a stab in the heart of the team, or Ter Stegen’s, or Raphinha’s, who gives a lot of soul to the team, or Cancelo’s lately. It’s not an excuse; the objectives remain intact.”

“It’s very difficult to replace him [Gavi] because he is the soul of the team. We miss him; that’s a reality.”

Talking about the Copa del Rey, Xavi assured that it remains an important title for the team:

“It is important. La Liga and the Champions League are priorities, but the Copa matters to us, and we want to fight for it.”

Xavi explained why Vitor Roque had not played even a minute in the Spanish Super Cup:

“He had some minor discomfort, and that’s why he didn’t participate in the Supercopa, but now he has trained well and will be available tomorrow in the Copa Del Rey.”

The coach once again expressed how important was it to win matches at Barcelona, as only good performances do not matter much in the long run:

“It’s normal; we are Barcelona, and it’s about winning. On the day against Madrid in La Liga, we played very well, but it’s about winning. If you refer to Luis Aragonés’ video, it’s about winning, winning, and winning again.

If there are no victories and no titles, there will be consequences, but as long as we win and secure titles, I am still here. I don’t know what reality you see, but this is mine.”

When asked whether any youth team players will get on the pitch tomorrow, Xavi did not provide a clear answer:

“I have no problem playing them tomorrow. I don’t know how many will play, but they will play.”

Lastly, Xavi assured the reporters that Oriol Romeu will play tomorrow and will be an important player for him: “Tomorrow, he [Romeu] will participate and be important.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari has been covering Spanish football as a writer for Barca News Network for the last one and a half year and as an amateur football fanatic for more than 10 years. He mainly covers on and off-field happenings taking place at Barcelona including transfer news, administrative changes, match reports, and any other eventful news coming out of the club.

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