Barcelona have arrived in Turkey for Thursday’s Europa League Round of 16 second leg against Galatasaray, and that’s where manager Xavi Hernández spoke to the press to preview the game.
The Barça boss also spoke about the recently announced sponsorship agreement with Spotify, the rumors of Erling Haaland joining Real Madrid this summer, and his concern for the short turnaround between Thursday and Sunday’s massive El Clásico.
Here are the best bits from Xavi’s media session:
On his message to the team ahead of Thursday
It’s a lot of things. For us it’s a final, a coin toss. We didn’t play well in the first half of the first leg, we didn’t show intensity. The standard is the game against Osasuna, where we were intense and able to go ahead. Tomorrow is a final, in a difficult stadium with great support. We have to try to do what we did in Naples.
On Galatasaray’s gameplan
I have the feeling we will face a similar team from the first leg, with a mid-block or maybe low. We will try to find solutions to attack in a better way. We made mistakes and they defended very well, and Iñaki Peña was extraordinary. We are very excited and hoping to advance to the next round.
We have worked to be more intense. We have to be self-critical and play better than the first leg, it wasn’t our best game. It’s about how we have to attack. If we understand them well, we have many options, but we also have to control their counter-attacks. For them it’s also a final and they’ll play at home.
On the importance of winning the Europa League
Our main objective is to be in the Champions League. Right now we are in the Europa League, and winning it will give us access to the Champions League. So we really want to win it, even if it is the Europa League.
On if Sergio Busquets can play on Thursday and Sunday
We will see. Right now we are focused on tomorrow’s match, we will think about Sunday after this one is over. Busquets is crucial in the team’s engine, his leadership, he’s our captain. For me he is a key piece.
On Spotify deal
To me it looks very good, as I’m sure it does for a large part of the members and supporters. It’s an important brand, modern, youthful, musical. I am very content, very satisfied. Congratulations to the marketing team for the job they have done.
On the atmosphere in the stadium
We will play in a difficult stadium, it’s not the same as our pitch, different dimensions, the crowd will push hard and will encourage them a lot. And yes, they can affect the team psychologically. We hope we can win and enjoy a positive effect.
On how he deals with the pressure of a decisive game
I enjoy the pressure, I see it as natural. I am very competitive, I am a winner and we enjoy these situations. We didn’t have a great result in the first leg, but I see it as an opportunity. We are in the same situation we were in Naples and we came out of that a lot stronger. This is Europe and nothing is given.
On the short turnaround ahead of El Clásico
It’s all about the aches and pains after the match. We will try to have a specific plan so that the players who play tomorrow can recover and arrive in good condition for Sunday.
On the rumors of Real Madrid signing both Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland
It’s all hypothetical. Right now we are working in the present, and tomorrow we want to win and move on to the next round. The club is working on the future team, but above all else the group is more important than any individual. If the individual qualities help the team, that’s even better, but above all else is the team.
On what will happen if Barça lose on Thursday and Sunday
It’s a possibility. If it happens, we will have to face it and keep working on what we have done so far. Nothing else.