Barcelona manager Xavi faced the press on Friday to talk about his team’s next La Liga clash against Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin.
It should be a fun game as the Catalans take on the Copa del Rey winners on a ground where they haven’t lost since the 2010-11 season.
Xavi spoke about Saturday’s opponents, offered fitness updates on Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Ansu Fati and also spoke about Gavi’s contract extension.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Real Betis
Tomorrow is a golden opportunity to achieve one of our objectives, to qualify for the Champions League. They are a direct rival, they came to the Camp Nou and won. It’s a possibility for revenge on footballing terms. Four games are left, we need to reach our objectives. It’s not going to be easy but with motivation and excitement we will try to beat this side who are in great form. They have great players, a great coach, we’ve had the whole week to work and we’ll try to get the three points which will qualify us for the Champions League.
Xavi on Ter Stegen and Pique
Marc wasn’t feeling well today. Yesterday he already had some stomach problems, we’ll see tomorrow how he is. He wants to be there but he wasn’t able to train today. Gerard is suffering from tendinopathy in his right thigh. He won’t be able to be with us tomorrow. It’s a shame, he’s an important player, but he has this problem and hopefully he will evolve as we expect and he’ll be with us for the last few games.
Xavi on Barca’s win over Real Madrid
It’s true that the 4-0 at the Bernabeu was just worth 3 points, unfortunately, I think the difference between the teams that Madrid eliminated in the Champions League and us was when we managed to have shots on goal we scored them. We’ve seen the comebacks they’ve made. For us it was important. They are the champions, they’re in the final and the way we won also indicated how we need to continue moving forward. We’ve played some incredible games but we need to be more consistent next season to compete for titles.
Xavi on next season’s objectives
The objectives, first of all this season, is to qualify for the Champions League and if we manage to do so then great. We then need to have a proper off-season, planning for the new season and based on that come up with objectives for the future. But first we need to take care of this season. The job is not done yet.
Xavi on tomorrow’s match
I expect Betis to be confident, the cup win will give them confidence. They have been partying and celebrating and they deserve to do so. I congratulate them, Pellegrini and all the players, they are having a great season. We expect a difficult match with a lot of individual talent, they beat us at home, we want to have revenge and beat them in their stadium.
Xavi on Ansu Fati
He’s great, he trained well, same as I said last week, he’s doing a great job. Physically he’s in good shape but we need to be cautious, we need him to go little by little. Get him back to match fitness. We’ll see how he is, he’s going to help us.
Xavi on Barca’s style
I think we need to look at the history of Barca. We’ve played many years a certain way and if we were to change it would take us a lot longer to win titles. With this style of play, with this philosophy we managed to win five Champions Leagues and a lot of league titles and more than that, the recognition of people around the world. When you leave Spain people remember Pep’s team with Messi, we were the envy of the world. We’ve been recognized as the best team ever. They don’t remember what we won, just how we played. So my message is apart from winning, it’s how we win, it’s crucial. I wouldn’t change anything. If we lose, draw, we need to insist on this style of play. This is the way forward, there is no other way, not for Barca.
Xavi on guard of honor for Betis
For us the guard of honor is a sign of respect and sportsmanship. Betis won a competition in which we also participated, so for me it’s just a sign of respect. We need to show the fans and kids what sportsmanship is. Tomorrow we will give them the guard of honor.
Xavi on Gavi
It’s very important. I’ve said many times, he’s a player who is important now and for the future. I have a great relationship with his agent. I think both sides want to re-sign. It would be great news for all Barca fans and for us.