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Xavi talks Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and Eric Garcia ahead of Real Sociedad

Here’s the latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona v Cadiz CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Xavi was back in front of the press on Wednesday to preview Barcelona’s next La Liga game against Real Sociedad.

The Catalans travel to Anoeta on Thursday in need of a win after back-to-back defeats against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cadiz.

Xavi spoke about his team’s form, the latest headlines involving Gerard Pique, Dani Alves’ fitness and rumors he’s been testing out Eric Garcia as a pivot.

Here are the best bits:

Xavi on Real Sociedad

It’s a different rival than Cadiz, Eintracht and Levante as well. Real are a great team, Imanol is an excellent coach. They are an example for us for how they have been doing things. They won the cup as well. They will be a difficult opponent. They will press us high.We will try to have the solutions to escape the high press. I think it will be a good game, especially for the fans, maybe not so much for the coaches. We need to get back to the excitement we had before to break this negative spell. It’ll be difficult. It’s another final. They are a direct rival for a Champions League spot.

Xavi on Barca’s form

It depends on the games. Against Levante we played well, people say we didn’t, but I think we did. Levante pressed us and it was hard to escape but we managed to win it late on. The knockout games against Eintracht weren’t good. Their style of play hurt us, we didn’t stop their counters. Against Cadiz there was a mental aspect. We perhaps confronted it with the wrong mindset but we should have won. There’s not one specific reason. We know the league is pretty much impossible, so we have to confront the reality which is qualifying for the Champions League.

Xavi on Pique

It’s Pique. He’s an extrovert. He likes to be the protagonist, I prefer to be more diplomatic, more prudent. He doesn’t, which is why he makes the headlines. If he was distracted or not focused, I’d be the first to warn him. But I think this motivates him, it fuels him, this is his drug, in a good sense, his adrenaline. He’s 100% concentrated and committed to this team. We’ve seen it on the field and we’ve missed him in these games. He’s fine and also with regards the injuries, he’s completely fine.

Xavi on what he told the players after Cadiz

I was very clear with my message. We have to play better and I told them that, I showed them videos of certain plays where I had my opinion, where they are maybe in disagreement. On the video I showed them where it was evident where Cadiz outplayed us. We should have won. We generated chances and we should have capitalized. This cannot happen again. If they beat us, like Eintracht, because of footballing reasons but opponents can’t beat us in intensity. I didn’t get angry with them, no.

Xavi on how to get fans excited again

Giving it all, playing good games, winning, finishing second in the league which is now our objective. Historically it’s not what we compete for but this season we areand that’s our reality. We need to get back to winning ways. We need to get the fans excited, finish as high as possible, in the Champions League and with good sensations.

Xavi on Barca’s last 7 games

We need to play better, compete better, have more belief and desire. It’s not easy as we are not competing for a title. You have to be more humble than ever and realize the objective is second spot.

Xavi on how he’s feeling

Not good. I like to win. I like to win titles. But this is the reality. We knew when we arrived it was a difficult stituation. Despite being a positive person I have to confront this. We won games against big teams. We’ve only been here in a short time, we need to trust this process. We’ve beaten the biggest teams in Spain. I’m still positive, obviously there are moments that are difficult to digest but we must continue to believe in what we are doing.

Xavi on Dani Alves

Dest played a great game against Cadiz. His production is excellent. Dani and Dest have some muscle annoyances. Dani told us the day before the game he wasn’t feeling great which is why he didn’t play. Now he’s on the list in case of emergency but he is noticing some pain and Dest also. But he’s been 100% committed to this team and I have no complaints whatsoever. His commitment is unquestionable but yes both players have muscle fatigue.

Xavi on Pedri

He’s a vital player for me and for the system I want to play. He’s one of the best midfielders in the world that understands the way we want to play. He’s 19 and an important loss. But also Ansu and Pique are important players for the group and when they are not here the team notices their absences.

Xavi on possibility of Eric Garcia as a pivot

Who said this? No, it might have been an idea we had one day as an emergency but I haven’t contemplated Eric playing there.