Xavi Hernandez has been talking to the press ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final clash against Athletic Bilbao.
The Catalans head into the game after a morale-boosting win over Real Betis, while Athletic were surprisingly beaten by Valencia.
It promises to be a tough game for both sides, particularly with a semi-final spot up for grabs, and here’s what Xavi’s had to say about it all:
Xavi on Athletic.
Athletic are an aggressive side and they will pressure us a lot. They have a great coach and international players who are in excellent form such as Nico Williams, Sancet and De Galarreta. Also, they have a stadium and fans that make a lot of noise and gets behind them. It will be a tough game and we will have to compete.
Xavi on Cancelo and Christensen
Cancelo and Christensen are fine. They’re ready to play. They will have minutes, João no longer has any discomfort. He wants to play. And for Christensen the same, he’s fine and ready.
Xavi on referees
I believe in their honesty, but I don’t like the pressure they are under. But the controversy is about the Madrid-Almeria match, not about me. I hope it affects the players in a positive way, that it’s going to cost us a lot and that the anger comes out to compete better.
Xavi on what he expects from Athletic
Tomorrow we will have less time to think. Valverde is one of the best coaches in Spanish football. It will be different, they play with a very high defensive line. It will be difficult and they play very different from Betis.
Xavi on his youngsters
Lamine is already a reality and Cubarsi already demonstrated his talent the other day. Hector Fort has already debuted, Marc Guiu. Fermín is a debutant this season too and he is very young. Balde and Pedri are 20 years old. Those from La Masia are very prepared. I see a very important group that can be consolidated in the first team.
Xavi on if Barca can win La Liga
Did you see the celebration at the end of the Betis game? It is difficult, I am realistic, but there are 18 games left. We won’t throw in the towel.
Xavi on Inaki Pena
He’s prepared. He has played in Turkey, where it’s loud. We trust him. Hopefully tomorrow we keep a clean sheet.
Xavi on Cubarsi
I see him very prepared. He is a footballer with a great mentality, our second goal came from him. A player with less personality pulls back, he looked for Frenkie.
Xavi on Barca’s habit of scoring late goals
It tells me that physically we are very good and that the team has faith. The team fights until the end and has a winning mentality. We believe in what we are doing.
Xavi on Nico Williams
He seems like an exceptional player to me. He can play left or right, one against one, he is fast and can score. This year he has exploded in his goalscoring role. He is a footballer who can make a difference and will be difficult to stop. He is a great player.
Xavi on January signings
It’s very difficult because of the situation we have. It’s unlikely to change. We have to focus on the players we have. I don’t think there’s anything new.
Xavi on Lamine Yamal
He is a talent. When you see him train you see that he is an exceptional talent, that he has courage, he dares, that he can make the difference one-on-one. The other day he had one of his best games with the first team. I’m happy, very happy that players of this caliber are coming out of La Masia.