Xavi has been talking about Barcelona’s Europa League play-off against Napoli ahead of the big game at the Camp Nou on Thursday.
The Barcelona boss spoke about Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia, didn’t really like questions about Kylian Mbappe and also offered his thoughts on the Europa League.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on his message for Barcelona fans
The message is clear. It’s an opportunity for us. Our main objective is to get back in the Champions League next season and there are two ways to do that: Finish in the top four in LaLiga or win the Europa League. Of course we would like to be in the Champions League. It hurts that we’re not there. Hearing the Champions League music on television made me angry. But we’re in another competition. It is still a European competition. We’re not talking about the third division. It is a chance to keep growing and everyone is motivated to win a trophy that the club have never won before.
Xavi on Eric Garcia
Eric is a center-back who, for me is at a very high level. He knows he made a mistake and it cost us a goal. We need to help him recover physically as well as his confidence because we are a bit short of center-backs and he’s an important player for me in terms of the way we play. He needs to return to the level he was at because he was at a very high level before the injury and we need to get him back there.
Xavi on 100 days in charge
It feels like 100 years, that’s true! We’ve been through unexpected situations, injuries, Covid, the winter market, yes we’ve got through them. We are trying to work with the players. I’m very much a culer and I want Barca to get back where they should be. There’s work to do but we are enjoying these moments as well. We need to keep moving forwards. We have economic challenges, they make you grow as a person. We keep trying to improve. I think the game has improved in various asepcts. We are pressing higher, dominating matches. We still need to improve but we are competing and that’s important. I think we are on the right path.
Xavi on Barcelona being favorites
I wouldn’t say we are favorites. We’ve got Napoli who are strong opposition. They are doing well in Serie A. They are the most difficult game we could have had. They’ve got much more experience than us in this competition. I wouldn’t say we are favorites. I’d say we are good competitors but we are still only in the knockout round.
Xavi on Mbappe and the UCL
Don’t talk to me about Mbappe. He is a great player, as are Neymar and Messi and PSG and Madrid are great sides, but we’re not in that competition, unfortunately. It makes me angry, I’m very competitive, a winner, and I’m angry to have been knocked out of the Champions League, but we have to fix that. We have to be there. But don’t ask me about Mbappe.
Xavi on Adama
All the players compete to play. Adama is giving us a lot, he’s a mature player. He’s able to turn well, he takes really good decisions. He can give us a lot. Drawing players off their mark, getting the ball off the wing, one on ones, he understands it well. He’s able to make the difference. He’s very capable. He’s given a lot to the team and I’m happy for him. He’s a pro, a great guy and he’ll make a difference this season for sure.
Xavi on if Luuk de Jong has played more than he expected
Yes, the professionalism, the way he trains, the dedication, the attitude, always being ready. He’s a pro, a serious pro. And then he goes out onto the pitch, lives up to it and that comes from the training. He scored that goal that got us the draw. Perfect. He’s able to get in the area, doing well. I’m sure he’s ready. I have no doubts.
Xavi on criticism of Eric and Busquets
A team like Barca is always criticized, always judged. They have to accept that. Criticism helps you improve, it helped me. They’ve got the performance, they are in shape, but players like Eric and Busi for me are very important for this game.
Xavi on if Dembele will play
It depends on how they are training, in their position what the competition is. Against Espanyol he had some good minutes, played with conviction, gave us depth, crossed well and that’s what we want. He’s helped us a lot and will continue to until the end of the season. He’s one more player. We’ll call him when we need him.
Xavi on Ferran Torres
I’m very happy with Ferran, what he’s giving us, the intensity, with and without the ball. He’s playing very well as a 9, moving out, forwards, to the channels, whether he scores or not it doesn’t matter. He’s a player who has a lot of ability. I like him a lot, either as a 9 or on the wing. He’s a great signing.
Xavi on Auba
He’s good, he trains really well. I think he needs to train a bit harder to be part of the group but he’s 100%, he’ll play, I have no doubt. He can make the difference, he works well in spaces. I’m very happy with him.
Xavi on missing Dani Alves
Alves will be in the dressing room and he’ll help.I ’m sure of it. I’ve already said it’s not fair but it would also be unfair to someone else. We decided more on the position than the performance. We’ll miss him but we had to make a decision. It’s a shame.