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Xavi talks Pedri, Dembele and Ter Stegen ahead of Benfica UCL clash

The latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Santander Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Xavi faced the press on Monday to talk about his team’s crucial Champions League clash against Benfica at the Camp Nou.

The new coach talked about Tuesday’s opponents, Golden Boy winner Pedri, the team’s injury situation and a host of first-teamers.

Here are the best bits:

Xavi on Benfica

Tomorrow it will be a tough match. They have a great squad, a great manager with a lot of experience. They are a very physical team with talented players up front and it will be difficult. We are talking about the Champions League. The rhythm, the intensity will be high but we are ready to compete. If we win we will qualify for the next round.

Xavi on what defeat would mean

Why ask about that? I prefer to speak about other hypotheses. I am not contemplating losing. What I have experienced at Barcelona is winning. To give a message in the event of not qualifying is to think in negative terms. I am very positive, very. I visualise winning on Tuesday and scoring goals. No one can take that away from me. Well, Benfica can if they beat us, but for now let me dream.

Xavi on Pedri

We have to see how he evolves. I am really happy for him because he deserves this award. He is making the difference for the national team and also here at the club. It’s a prestigious award. Now he’s in a tough situation with his injury. It’s not an easy injury and he’s having some problems but we are going to try to get him back as soon as possible because he’s a key player in this team. We don’t have a date yet but we want him fully recovered.

Xavi on winning

I want to win tomorrow. I don’t want to think about another scenario. We are preparing the team in defence and attack, psychologically. Tomorrow is a great chance to win and go through. We are in a positive dynamic. If we lose then we will prepare to face a new situation but for now we have to be positive. It’s a possibility to win so let’s go for it.

Xavi on injuries

Neither Ilias nor Abde nor Jutgla can play. Let’s see how Dest is, how is Ousmane, how is Sergi Roberto, players about to recover. We ran out of almost pure wingers, perhaps Coutinho, Demir, can play. Mingueza, Busquets and Nico are all fine.

Xavi on Dembele

It depends on the feelings. What we do not want is for them to get injured. Especially with these players who are about to recover, I am guided a lot by the feelings of the footballers, let’s see if he could help us, he will be important

Xavi on Barca fans

Firstly I want to thank them because I’ve never seen an atmosphere like the one on Saturday in my career. It was amazing. It seemed that we were playing in a new stadium. Tomorrow we need the fans again to support us and to help us through to the last 16. They are part of this club and we are really proud of the supporters. I feel really impressed how they supported the team. I have to thank them.

Xavi on the Champions League

Because we lost against Bayern and Benfica, these are the two rubbers we have to face. The situation is easy, we have to win one of these two games. That’s it. That’s the reality.

Xavi on Baghdad Bounedjah rumors

The player is extraordinary, but there is no interest, I don’t know where the news came from.

Xavi on Araujo

We will see the situation in which we want to defend, attack. Araujo will be very important, even if he did not play on Saturday. Like Umtiti or Lenglet, I count on all of them and we will need them all, they are training like beasts.

Xavi on physical midfielders

We already have physical midfielders, we already have them. De Jong or Nico, or Busi himself, without being very strong, he is one of the midfielders who recovers the most balls in the world. To play like we do, you don’t have to be two meters tall and weigh 85 kilos ... Look at how many balls Pedri recovers, like Iniesta did. But we have that profile you ask for, Nico or De Jong.

Xavi on Ter Stegen

He is essential, as are Neto, Iñaki or Tenas, they have this ability. He is a high-level goalkeeper, one of the three best in the world, both in goal and with his feet. He’s got character.

Xavi on wingers

What we want is to open the field, if you analyze the game on Saturday, we had a pure winger and Gavi did it on the other side. If you generate on the outside you have more space on the inside, we want to occupy those spaces, that position is key for me.

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