Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has faced reporters ahead of Sunday’s La Liga clash against Athletic Club.
The coach spoke about Robert Lewandowski, his own future at the club, Ansu Fati and the threat posed by the Basque side.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Athletic
Athletic are not getting the results they probably deserve. They are really strong physically. They have a direct way of playing. They are a really intense team, it’s one of the toughest away games that we still have. We’ll need to match their intensity.
Xavi on Lewandowski
Robert has been training with the group since Thursday. He’s ready. He’s an example of a committed player. He’s feeling well and he wants to play always. He’s a key player. He has changed the mentality of the team. We are really happy to have him and yes he’s back and it’ll be really important.
Xavi on Pedri and Dembele
Pedri and Dembele we will still have to wait. They are training individually and we still have to see how they feeling for the following matches.
Xavi on four players being at risk of suspension
We know it but we have a match tomorrow and that’s a final. We are not going to play thinking about possible suspensions. We will play with all our weapons. We are just focused on tomorrow’s match, then we will think about El Clasico.
Xavi on Eric Garcia
He’s not participated as much as he probably deserves. He’s a great professional. I count on him for now and the future. He always plays well, he can adapt to other positions. For me he’s an example to the dressing room.
Xavi on if he can stay at Barcelona long-term like Sir Alex at Man Utd
It’s difficult in Barcelona, hopefully. It’s my home, I love to be here. I suffer many days. But I am thankful to the president. He’s really happy with our job. It’s great to have his support. He’s a loyal man and hopefully I will stay here for many years but it will depend on our results and this is not the moment to talk about my contract extension. I still have one more year, we are close to winning trophies, and that’s the most important thing. We need to win trophies.
Xavi on referee scandal
Well that’s a question for our president but he says that we should be calm, focused on football and there’s where I am. We haven’t been talking about this in the locker room we’ve been talking about football.
Xavi on Lewandowski saying Barca must adapt
I talk a lot with Robert about football. I will compare him with people like Ronaldinho and Messi. He has changed the mentality of our team. He’s our leader and all our players are growing with him. It’s important for him to communicate. Of course 10 years ago football was different, nowadays in a few seconds you can play box to box. Football was slower, you’d have more control. Now, mostly all of the teams press up front, there are more transitions now, so I completely agree with Robert but it’s doesn’t change our mentality or our way of playing.
Xavi on Araujo suspension
There will be many duels, lots of intensity, high pressure, lots of crosses from the wings, set-pieces. Absolutely we are going to miss him. But we have other good players to replace him.
Xavi on Barcelona transfers
We talk every week with the president. We try to plan next season early. But we will try to improve our team. Yes we need some support in these positions. We still have to see which players are going to contionue, who will leave, also the fair play situation.
Xavi on Barcelona’s defense
We are defending well, we are pressing well, everyone defends. We are winning many duels. We are playing excellently in some situations. In attack we need to improve. Tomorrow is a good day to improve in all these aspects.
Xavi on Barcelona with and without Lewandowski
We won matches without Robert but we missed him a lot. We attack better with Lewandowski. He presses high up front, he’s a great player to control the ball and keep possession. He doesn’t lose many balls. He’s an oustanding players in attack, defense, set-pieces, a crucial player for us.
Xavi on how Barca are helping Ansu Fati
Giving him all of our support. He’s in a good direction. He’s improving a lot in intensity, defending. I’m really happy with Ansu and individually probably he needs to score to increase his confidence but the most important thing is the group dynamic.
Xavi on Alemany’s future
Mateu always does an incredible job. There’s an incredible group of people working here, especially Mateu. He’s reilable, experienced, I’m really happy to work with him. I hope he will continue. I’m with him almost every day, he’s happy. and I think he’ll stay.