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Xavi: “Atletico saw a very good Barça”

Xavi during a press conference / IMAGO / AGENCIA EFE
Xavi during a press conference / IMAGO / AGENCIA EFE

Xavi attended a press conference today before the match against Espanyol on Sunday. He spoke about the players returning from injuries, his debut against Espanyol, and more.

On his debut as a Barça coach against Espanyol:

“We will face a similar Espanyol to the one we have seen at Camp Nou. We have improved, we have new players and are in good momentum, so we need to continue in this way. Tomorrow we will be facing strong opposition, an intense rival, who will be a tough test with a crowd behind them. They will want to take their revenge.”

On what to improve:

“The team needs a couple of consecutive positive results. We are working very well, we had the whole week to prepare for this match and we feel good.”

On Alves receiving a 2-match ban:

“I regret it because he is a really important player for us. Tomorrow we will make a decision on whether to change the system, but it is clear we will miss him as he gave us a lot on the pitch.”

On the goal for this season:

“I already mentioned before that we are not ruling anything out. Yes, we are 15 points behind the leader with one game in hand, but we are still not ruling anything out. The first goal is to be among the top four, but the next few games will tell us more about what we can expect. We will see how far we can go, as we also depend on the teams in front.”

On what the team is lacking:

“Consistency. We have to be consistent with this intensity, rhythm, to circulate the ball quickly and take fewer touches. We need this consistency to stay in the top four.”

On Reverter leaving:

“We try to not let it affect us. I spoke to Ferran and he will come to say his goodbyes to the team. He has done a lot for us, so it is a shame.”

On Eric and Memphis:

“Eric is fine and he will be included in the squad tomorrow. Memphis had a small relapse, but he should be back with the group in the next week.”

On Barça’s best performance:

“Against Atletico, you saw a very good Barça. We are in 4th place now, but we want to keep climbing the table, but we have to keep our heads down and keep working on. Even if we play well, we should not get too proud of ourselves.”

On freekicks:

“We worked on them today. Messi was 20 or 21 years old when he has still not taken any freekick until Tito told him to take them one day. Our team has many good shooters like Memphis and Alves. And guys like Pedri, Eric, and Frenkie tried taking them today. It is our job to make a list for each game and decide who will take them. It is something we are working on.”

On penalty takers:

“Busi is a good penalty taker, as well as Memphis, Auba, and Pique. We are not lacking them. The team was used to Messi taking everything, but there are other specialists for penalties or freekicks. The staff will decide in the end.”

On Espanyol complaining about the referees:

“You know that I do not like to talk about referees. I just hope they do not harm us. They are professionals with a difficult job, even with VAR helping them. I believe in professionalism and justice.”

On Dembele:

“I already said that I intended for him to feature in the 2nd half against Atletico. He is still a part of the team and he will still help us. I will decide whether he plays or not in the end.”

On what the team still has to improve on:

“Knowing how to attack the right spaces, not getting caught out of the position, solving the difficult situations in the buildup towards chance creation. The players apprehended a lot on the tactical level already, we are controlling the space well now. We are improving a lot in general.”

On Gavi:

“He is brutal in his pressing, steals a lot of balls. He can turn well with the ball, but he has to improve on being the third man, on making runs. He is still only 17 years old, so his performances are spectacular. Training him is wonderful.”

On Frenkie de Jong:

“We will decide tomorrow. The goal is to surprise them. Espanyol is doing a good job with Vicente Moreno. I do not want to make rash statements.”