Xavi talks Pedri, Roque, Fermin, Ancelotti ahead of Barcelona vs Mallorca

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Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi addresses a press conference at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on January 30, 2024.
Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Having failed to get a victory in their last La Liga match against Athletic Club, Xavi Hernandez’s FC Barcelona team missed out on the opportunity to get to the second spot in the league standings.

The Catalans will now be looking to secure all three points as they are set to face Mallorca in their upcoming league game this Friday. They will be hoping that Girona and Real Madrid can drop points so that their deficit to the top of the league can be reduced to some extent.

For this match against Mallorca, Barcelona have history on their side as the Blaugranes have not lost to the Balearic Islanders for the last 15 years, their last defeat having come in 2008-09 when Pep Guardiola was still in charge and his team had already won La Liga.

Xavi talked to the media ahead of this match and addressed questions about his team’s chances in this match in particular and in La Liga in general. He also provided updates on the conditions of some players. The main highlights of this press conference are as follows:

Xavi began the presser with comments on his opponents for Friday, and talked highly of his rival counterpart ahead of this match:

“He’s having a great season, especially in the Copa del Rey. Aguirre works very well with his teams; they’re doing very well with that back-five setup. They are very solid, robust, and know what they’re doing. A tough opponent.”

The draw against Athletic Club was particularly serious for Barcelona not only because of the points dropped but also because that match saw two key Barcelona players, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, leaving the pitch with injuries.

The case of Pedri was particularly concerning as he has been suffering from injuries for a significant period of time now, but Xavi was satisfied with how the player’s condition has been approached by the club:

“What we’re trying to do is injury prevention, I believe we’ve done an impeccable job, especially with Pedri. I’ve already told him that this is the last injury. It’s not as serious as was thought. Surely he will come back and be important. He’s not the first player this has happened to.”

“No, but this is not the first time he has had many injuries at the beginning of his career and then he doesn’t get injured anymore. It’s not easy to manage the pressure at his young age, I think there’s a matter of him convincing himself that he will recover and be fine.”

“For Pedri, the important thing is that he is well. Not about returning on the day of El Clásico, or recovering for the Euro Cup. He shouldn’t think about anything other than recovering 100%. As for Albert Luque, we are in constant contact, I have a good relationship with him. He’s from Terrassa just like me.”

Despite the draw in the last game and the injuries to key players, Xavi was confident his team will be able to get a good result in the upcoming match:

“Between words and what happens on the field, there’s a world. I think we prepared the match very well, I think we have many opportunities to attack well, defend… It’s very easy to talk here, we have to do it on the field and that’s not so easy. The example is the Getafe match, we’ll see if we are capable.”

The Barcelona head coach was not willing to talk about things far ahead in the future, and wanted this press conference to address things related to the immediate future, i.e., the match against Mallorca:

“I will not talk about coaches, we are playing a lot this season. Tomorrow we play against Mallorca, who are in the Copa final. It’s not the time to talk about the future, neither about coaches nor about signings.”

Xavi also indicated that he will be open to making some rotations keeping in view the difficult schedule ahead:

“Tomorrow we will surely make some changes compared to the other day. We have to think about the players, not because Tuesday is the Champions League. We think about fatigue, the accumulation of minutes… not because Tuesday is an important match, but thinking about the players so that they are all available in this stretch and until the end of the season.”

The Barcelona trainer put all his support behind Laporta to take the club out of the mess that it currently finds itself in:

“Well, from the inside, I have a very positive view. Without intending to criticize, I think the president found a club in a very complicated economic moment, also at an institutional, sporting level… I think a good job is being done. I already said that we are halfway to achieving something great.”

“For me, Laporta is the best president in Barcelona’s history and he has to prove it again. He is capable, a leader, positive… If there is anyone capable of getting Barça out of this situation, it is precisely Laporta.”

Xavi also made clear that the team’s philosophy going forward will remain the same, even though they will be missing some key players:

“We will try. Tomorrow is another test to try, to play… Our philosophy won’t change with the absences. We’ll try to keep our football the same. Nothing changes, just that we have two very sensitive absences.”

“Now there’s not much to choose from in midfield. Practically the only natural midfielders we have are Fermín and Gündogan. From there, we have to reinvent players, as we have already done with Christensen, which I think is going very well. We can readjust Joao Félix, Ferran, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto… but they are not your typical midfielders.”

Barcelona’s main rivals in Spain, Real Madrid, have been involved in several refereeing controversies, but Xavi was not too keen to comment on the latest scandal involving Real Madrid TV:

“I think I’ve already given my opinion, you know what I think, there’s no need to insist.”

The former midfielder also talked about Vitor Roque, and ensured that he will get opportunities to play in the coming weeks:

“Many times it’s the competition itself. He’s competing against Lewandowski. It’s not easy, he has had minutes, opportunities… if he earns it, he will participate and play, like everyone else.”

Once again, Xavi reiterated that he and his team will fight for La Liga till the very moment:

“We still have possibilities and we believe we can compete for La Liga. We won’t give up and we’ll try until the numbers say we can’t. We’re motivated despite being aware that we missed an opportunity against Athletic, but tomorrow we also have the chance to put pressure.”

“I don’t think La Liga is lost. We lost an opportunity in San Mamés, but tomorrow we have another one. You’re already putting pressure on your rivals, we can’t change our mindset and think about the Champions League.”

The Barcelona coach also commented on Real Madrid’s lackluster performance against RB Leipzig in their last UEFA Champions League match:

“I don’t know where we would be, but if they shoot 34 times at us, it’s normal that we lose the match. I say we, because it has also happened to us many times. That’s the greatness of football.”

Xavi spoke very highly of Marc Andre Ter Stegen, who is set to reach the milestone of making 400 appearances with Barcelona in the upcoming match:

“I believe to define him, it’s with Víctor Valdés, the best goalkeeper in Barcelona’s history, and from there, it’s nobility, personality, daring, captaincy, leadership… many adjectives come to mind. I think he’s an example within the locker room and on the field. A true captain.”

Talking about how football has developed in general, Xavi believed there is now more equality among the clubs, and specifically cited Mallorca as an example of this change:

“I think it’s more equal because there’s more technical knowledge, opponents didn’t have as much technical or tactical level before. There are better coaches than years ago, they level the playing field, they are physically strong, and they don’t leave you in one-on-one situations… It’s very difficult to win games, Mallorca without such a big budget has beaten big teams.”

Xavi was not too concerned with the yellow card accumulation for some players, which can lead to suspensions in the upcoming games:

“We have to take it step by step without thinking about the next match, if we have to commit a foul that leads to a card and suspension, we do it. We have to take it step by step.”

As has been the case for several press conferences in the past, Xavi once again showed his commitment to his style of play:

“No, the system can change but the model is very difficult to change, because we believe in the model. I think we should attack, and be offensive… but the system can vary. Never the model. Unfortunately, this idea we had at the beginning of the season with Pedri, Gavi, Frenkie… hasn’t happened because they haven’t been able to play together.”

With Frenkie and Pedri both out injured, Fermin Lopez will have to step up for the upcoming match against Mallorca. However, Xavi was confident he would not be affected by the pressure that comes with this responsibility:

“I don’t think so, especially not Fermín. He’s very perfectionist. He wants to do things excellently, he sets himself many goals and I imagine he wouldn’t be happy in San Mamés, and it’s normal, because maybe he wasn’t happy with his performance. We trust him and he has the level for the Barça first team.”

Xavi once again shared how much of a burden it is to manage a club as big as FC Barcelona:

“Barça always puts pressure on you. Just imagine the maximum pressure you’ve ever experienced in your life, well, that’s what it feels like to train Barça every day. The other day Ancelotti said he doesn’t enjoy it, that he suffers, well, that’s what I said a few months ago. There’s little enjoyment and a lot of suffering. It’s normal, it’s Barça.”

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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