Xavi faced the press on Saturday to preview Barcelona’s crucial Clasico clash with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The coach spoke about the game, gave an update on Jules Kounde and how his team are feeling after their midweek Champions League disappointment.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on if last season’s 4-0 is a reference
It can serve as a reference to be brave, to have possession in the opposition’s half. They feel comfortable in a low and medium block to go on the counter but we also have to be in a block and attack in a compact way. It’s what we like. We have to have personality. We arrive at a better moment in the league than last year and we have to take advantage of it.
Xavi on the importance of the game
It is a vital game for us and for Madrid. Let’s see who comes out on top. The project has just started, we can’t destroy everything now. Calm down, be patient. We are still under construction. What happened the other day in Europe makes us angry and sad, but we have to be positive. I think we are on the right track.
Xavi on Kounde
He’s feeling at 100%. He’s doing well. He’s playing well, he’s got good feeings, he’s training hard. He’s made a good effort. He will be available and we will look at it tomorrow.
Xavi on if Busquets is untouchable
Busquets is important. Although we didn’t have the best second half and we split a bit, he is a player who is still important. Untouchable? He is a Barça player and he has to be prepared to play, which is what everyone is doing.
Xavi on the mood in the dressing room
Let’s hope it doesn’t take its toll. We gave it our all, with an excellent first half and we lost it because of details, Europe takes its toll. We don’t like this disappointment. I’m still optimistic and I see the team wanting to win things this season. We have to continue to work, I know of no other path to success.
Xavi on if he’s been unfair to the Barca captains
I do not know. I try to listen and read little. Everything will be doubted. Of the coach, of the captains, of the signings. I don’t know if it’s fair or unfair, but we can’t think that. We have to focus and work.
Xavi on if he’d be happy to win without playing well
The objective is to win and play well. Or play well in the way that we believe in. Keep hold of the ball, be the protagonists, pressing really high, attacking a lot, attacking the best way possible. The consequence of that will be the result. The other day we played well but we didn’t win. Then other days you don’t play well but you win, like against Celta.
Xavi on if Eric and Alonso will play as center-backs
Anything is possible. We will decide on it tomorrow. It’s not just Vinicius but Benzema, Kroos, and the rest of the players. Madrid is a great rival that takes full advantage of its qualities. Tomorrow we will see.
Xavi on how he’s feeling
We have improved since we took charge of the team. At the level of results, the pity is the downturn with Inter, because we were doing well. We are leaders in the league, without losing and the season makes me continue to be optimistic. I know where I am and I will not stop working and insist on what we’re doing. When I don’t see it clearly I’ll go home, but for now I see it well and I’m optimistic. I won’t be a problem for Barça the day they think I’m not a solution.
Xavi on his chat with Laporta
He gave me maximum confidence, that there is a lot left. The president is very optimistic, he always gives you wings. The Champions League has been cruel to us but we must not give up, we are fine and we must continue with this work that we are doing.
Xavi on no captains in El Clasico
This season has already been played without captains. We’ll see what happens. But I don’t look at that. It seems that everything is focused on the captains. Maybe there is a captain who has to play half an hour, or 90 minutes.
Xavi on right-back
We will change little, although we do not have Ronald who stopped Vinicius. Whoever plays on the right will have to be very good but will have to have help. I see it more as a collective effort.
Xavi on if Barca need more muscle in the UCL
More muscle is needed, but the brain, for decision-making, not physically.