Xavi talks Roque, Raphinha, Kounde, Araujo, Faye ahead of Cadiz vs Barcelona

Date:

Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi addresses a press conference in Barcelona on October 27, 2023, on the eve of the Spanish league football match against Real Madrid.
Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

FC Barcelona got a morale-boosting victory over Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals last Wednesday. This win puts them in the pole position to qualify for the semi-finals of the premier European competition.

The upcoming second leg of this tie is set to be played this Tuesday, as PSG will be visiting the Montjuic and hoping to overturn the one-goal deficit. However, before this game, Barcelona will have to take care of their league match against Cadiz, which is scheduled for this Saturday night.

Xavi Hernandez talked to the press ahead of this La Liga match, as his team is still in contention for the league title, although their chances are very slim. The Catalans currently trail the leaders, Real Madrid, by eight points, and have only eight matches to overcome this deficit.

The Barcelona head coach talked about different aspects of this match, and also touched upon Barcelona’s chances in the two tournaments. He also talked about some aspects of his job and situation of some of his players in the squad.

The main highlights of this press conference are as follows:

Xavi started by praising the good run of form that Barcelona’s opponents are going through in recent days:

“They have only lost one match in the last five and recently won against Atlético at their home. They are fighting to avoid relegation, and their lives depend on it. They are a very aggressive, well-organized team, playing direct football… A tough opponent and a difficult field.”

“It will be challenging. Let’s see how we arrive and what our fatigue level is. These are three vital points if we want to compete in the league.”

The Barcelona trainer was clear that this was a crucial match for his team’s aspirations in La Liga and was not looking to make a lot of rotations:

“It’s a vital match. If we don’t win, the league could be over for us. We have to come out very focused to fight until the end. If we fail tomorrow, the Clásico will be of little use. Let’s see what the leader does. It’s a crucial matchday for the league. We’re playing for a title tomorrow.”

“We will have announced the lineup before the Madrid match. This competition means a lot to us. We need to change our mentality. Winning tomorrow is vital.”

The former midfielder was clear the match against Cadiz was not only important to maintain the team’s form ahead of the second leg against PSG, but also because of the situation in La Liga:

“Also, but also to keep our chances in La Liga alive. If we win, we’ll still have options. If not, it would practically be almost decided by Madrid. And it would also give us wings for Tuesday.”

Once again, Xavi reiterated how his decision to leave at the end of the season and its announcement has been helpful for the team:

“Yes, at many moments, yes. But it also happened before. Now with my decision, there has been much more calmness in the environment. We are all calmer knowing that I have an expiration date. I think it has gone well, and that’s why we are where we are now. If not, it would have been more difficult.”

“I was convinced that with my decision we would be here. That’s what I made clear to the president. The important thing is the club, and I will leave for the club. If I hadn’t decided that, we wouldn’t be competing at this point.”

The Barcelona head coach did not clearly answer whether Frenkie de Jong or Pedri will be able to start the match tomorrow:

“Talking to them, each case is different. It also depends on the injury, it’s not the same for everyone. Tomorrow we have to be at the same level of activation or even higher than on the Champions League day. It will be a competitive eleven to go for the three points.”

Xavi understood that while the team’s mood is highly optimistic at the moment, nothing has been achieved yet:

“In the same way as when there are criticisms. Now we have to bring the mood down a bit. We have to think that nothing is done. The word is excitement, but we are in the same situation as before the PSG match. We are 1-0 up at halftime… But it’s better to live with optimism.”

“In the same way as before. Taking care of the details, watching the opponent… nothing has changed. The team has entered a very positive dynamic, the team believes in it… we have to take advantage of it. Win tomorrow, on Tuesday, and whatever comes after.”

Vitor Roque has not been able to feature much for Barcelona in recent weeks, and Xavi identified some specific areas in which the club is working to improve the Brazilian’s performance:

“Especially in the movements, in understanding the game. Tomorrow we have prepared a video of his movements into space. He is giving us things and tomorrow he will surely have minutes. We have to take advantage and try to make him understand the positional play that he hasn’t internalized yet.”

Normally, the best-case scenario for Barcelona fans will be if Real Madrid gets eliminated and Barcelona advances to the finals in the Champions League. Xavi was asked to comment on such a possibility, but he was not ready to share his thoughts too much:

“The one I saw coming is that you wouldn’t have asked me this question. Now, assumptions are always positive. Changing the dynamic is this. It helps that we haven’t lost in three months… That was it, changing the dynamic for the good of the team, and the decision won’t change.”

Mika Faye has been highly impressive with Barcelona Atletic since the start of the season, and Xavi believed he was ready to make his debut with the first team tomorrow:

“He’ll be on the list. He’s ready. We’re watching and following them. They are very prepared players. La Masia always pays off. Faye, Casadó… but the competition is fierce. I see him ready, yes.”

There was some controversy ahead of the PSG match as a TV commentator made some racist comments about Lamine Yamal, and Xavi also condemned these comments:

“You’ve said it: Repugnant and condemnable. Lamine is okay, calm, and happy. There’s no need to talk more about this.”

Gundogan has been playing non-stop for Barcelona, and the Barcelona trainer explained why he has been so important for the team:

“We want to give him a rest, but he’s so important… It’s clear that someday he’ll need to rest. We’ll talk to him to see how he’s feeling. And he’s not a teenager. He’s played every game, and his performance has been fantastic.”

Ronald Araujo has been linked with a move away from Barcelona in the last few weeks, and the former midfielder wanted him to remain committed to his club for coming years as well:

“Ronald, as I’ve said, is a hugely important player for the present and future of Barcelona. I don’t see him anywhere else, and he has to stay 100 percent committed.”

Xavi also took the opportunity to praise Raphinha, who was key for Barcelona as they won against PSG, and also commended his team’s physical condition against a side as intense as the Parisians:

“I think Raphinha is what we saw the other day. He’s an intense player, who goes deep, who plays on the wing and inside. And we have the physical preparation because we have time to train. And we run more than PSG, which is coached by Luis Enrique. The physical preparation work is very commendable.”

Similarly, Kounde was also integral for Barcelona as he helped his team keep a player as important as Mbappe quiet, and the Barcelona trainer also had some good words to say about him:

“Jules, I’m absolutely delighted. It was almost a personal signing of mine. He’s one of the best defenders at the moment. He has many virtues. The work to stop Mbappé was more collective. Jules deserves a lot of credit, but Ronald, Sergi, Lamine… we were very solid together.”

“He has to be a defender for Barça. It doesn’t matter where or with whom we play. He is a defender and is here to help the team like everyone else. And that has been made clear.”

When asked about the impact of Pau Cubarsi on the team, Xavi was clear that it is the collective effort of the group that has led to the improvement in results:

“I think it’s about collective work. It’s not that one player has improved… We have improved as a team, and individual aspects shine more.”

Lastly, Xavi also did not claim too much credit for himself, and believed it was ultimately the players who allowed Barcelona to get a positive result against PSG:

“I don’t win games. The players win them. If Pedri doesn’t make that assist, I can make the substitution in the 50th or 60th minute or the 13th. It’s about being inspired, more or less. But you have to be there like Andreas or put it in like Gundo.”

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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