Xavi Hernandez has spoken to the press ahead of Wednesday’s La Liga match against Rayo Vallecano at Vallecas.
The Barcelona boss spoke about the possibility of Eric Garcia replacing the suspended Sergio Busquets, Ousmane Dembele’s fitness and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Rayo
Tomorrow it’s a tough game. It’s one of the most intense teams in La Liga because they don’t let you go forward, they press you high, they make tactical fouls. It’s a really tough rival. They have a great manager and are really intense.
Will Eric replace Busquets against Rayo?
Yes, he’s one of the options. We also have Frenkie, different options. Tomorrow we’ll decide. He played really well at Elche but tomorrow is a different game.
Xavi on Dembele
On Saturday he will be available. Andreas too will be available for Saturday.
Xavi on if Tebas will help Barca bring Messi back
That’s a question for him not for me. I think you haven’t asked the right person. If Tebas has to help? There are rules and you have to follow them.
Xavi on Ancelotti saying there’s no 11-point gap
Absolutely, and that’s positive because this means we are doing excellent things. He’s right, the gap in real terms is not what the table says. I think it’s a positive comment from Ancelotti, it says a lot about what we’re doing.
Xavi on managing Messi
You are talking about a hypothesis. We are not thinking about this. We need to win the league and we are focused on that. I love to talk about Messi because I have a great relationship with him but it’s not the right moment.
Xavi on if team has recovered identity
I think we did agains Atletico. We played a fantastic match, patient. We understood our philosophy. We saw a good Barcelona and that is what we want. Tomorrow will be difficult, Vallecas is a small pitch and keeping the ball is difficult. They press you. Tomorrow is a tough ground.
Xavi on extending contract
Yes I still have one more year. We’ve been talking with our president. You already know. I have a really good relationship with him. There’s not going to be any problem extending my contract.
Xavi on Ter Stegen’s importance
I already knew Marc. He’s someone who always wants perfection. And also the goalkeeper trainer was conscious he needed to improve. This year he’s at an incredible level. I think right now he’s the best in the world. He’s the best playing to feet and I love having him between the sticks.
Xavi on if he’d prefer to win the league at home or away
I’m not calculating. I just want to win the league. I don’t think it will be easy. We still have many points in play. I don’t care if we win at home or away. Better at home but we just want to win.
Xavi on Gavi receiving more tackles
He’s someone who likes contact. He has character, physically he’s really strong, he wins duels and he has to battle for the ball. Of course, if he’s booked he has to be careful.