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Xavi: “It is a match of almost six points, a final for us”

Xavi during a press conference/ SPORT
Xavi during a press conference/ SPORT
Xavi during the press conference / SPORT

FC Barcelona face Atletico Madrid on Sunday in one of the most important matches in the league this season. Xavi spoke to the press before the game, where he talked about the upcoming game, the new signings, Dembélé and much more.

Here’s what FC Barcelona coach Xavi had to say:

On whether this is a good opportunity to beat Atletico 

“Tomorrow is another final for us, we play against the current champion. A very tough team, with a coach with whom they play with heart. We play at home, with the support from the fans, after a month and a half. We want to show that we have trained well, that we have good feelings and we want to compete. These are three vital points. It is a direct rival. It is a match of almost six points, a final for us. We have to compete well.”

On Dembélé 

“Circumstances have led to us not finding a solution with Ousmane. He is part of the club and the squad. We have met and decided that he is a team player. He is part of the squad and we cannot shoot ourselves in the foot. It’s a club decision and we’ll use him when we think it’s convenient. He’s one of the team.”

On whether Dembélé’s precedent could be negative

“Quite the contrary. I think we have decided well, for the good of the group. We would have liked him to have renewed or found a solution. We have to encourage Ousmane for the good of Barça. I understand that people are hurt, but he has trained well at all times.”

On Adama and Aubameyang

“Both of them have trained well. Perhaps Adama arrives in a better physical condition. Auba has just recovered from Covid. Both are available and have come with great enthusiasm. Looking forward to seeing them in the team.”

On the winter signings 

“The club has done a great job, I would like to highlight Mateu and Jordi Cruyff. The effort made by the club has been extraordinary. With the ‘fair play’ and the salary limit… It has been a good job from the club and I’m happy.”

On Alves being left out of the Europa League squad 

“I feel bad about the decision, it’s a difficult decision. It had to be unfair to one of the new players and it was him.”

On the signings 

“Aubameyang and Adama are at a good age to understand the game. If they push us high we have more options to go into spaces. It is more difficult for the opposing defenses. We have many alternatives in attack. There is a range of possibilities that is very good for the team and for me to be able to choose.”

On Araujo’s renewal

It’s a priority. We’re very happy with his performance. It’s a priority renewal, we’ll see if the club and his representative agree.”

On Aubameyang 

“I didn’t say he wasn’t good for Barça. I said he didn’t have the associative game. Aubameyang can give us depth and goals. He’s experienced and can give us presence in the area. We have to exploit the player’s strengths.”

On the management of the Dembélé case 

“I am a very conciliatory person and I try to find the best solution. We did not find the solution and we have to find a new one. We are trying the best for the club and we understand that Ousmane has to be there. They are footballing circumstances, but they are part of being a Barça coach.”

On the Europa League 

“It’s an opportunity to win it and get into the Champions League. We want to be in the Champions League and we haven’t been able to compete. I’d like to win it and have a UEFA or Europa League in the record.”

On what he expects in the final stretch of the season 

“I continue to be very excited, with the signings we can improve. We are working hard to meet our objectives. We have a test against the reigning champion, even if they aren’t going through the best situation. We will see how far our competitiveness goes.”

On Abde and Jutglà 

“We will try to make them two more options for us, but there is more competition now. If the matches between Barça B and the first team coincide, they will play with the reserve team.”

On the Club World Cup 

“It’s an opportunity for the South American teams to make themselves known, because they have the goal of playing in Europe. The goal is always to win it once you’re there.”

On the objectives 

“For the moment we have to enter the Champions League, which is the main objective, but we are not ruling anything out. We are 15 points behind with one game in hand and we are not ruling anything out, but we have to be realistic.”

On Jordi Alba and the competition 

“Balde is injured for five or six weeks. There are more options. Jordi is important, it is clear that he can improve his performance, but he is a fundamental piece for me.”

On what he expects from the team 

“We have strengthened ourselves well and it is a team that changes with the signings. We are going to see how far we can compete. There is a good group, with enthusiasm to compete. There are four months left in the season and then we will talk. I’m happy with the additions.”

On Luis Suárez 

“We are talking about the best center forward of the last 20-30 years, along with Eto’o’. He must be received with honor. It is a pity that he could not leave with a great tribute. I hope the fans receive him with a standing ovation.”

On the efforts that the new players have made to sign 

“There are a few who have done it and others have not. The positive point of the market is that the players want to come to Barça. They all have the wish of playing for Barça and that’s what these efforts are all about. It’s time to think about the club. We’re in a complicated situation and gestures like those of the new players, who have made efforts to come, is very worthy and positive. This club is very big and everyone wants to come.”

On what Adama and Aubameyang can contribute

“Football maturity. Both Aubameyang and Adama are at the best age and are perfectly capable. They can come in very handy for the team.”

On Atlético de Madrid’s style of play 

“It wouldn’t be Barça’s style. I don’t think the Barça fans understand Atlético’s way of playing, it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have merits or is competitive. It’s a reality. We wouldn’t understand locking ourselves in a low block in the area. It’s legal and nobody tells you that you can’t win like that. He has won two leagues and has been close to the Champions League. People here wouldn’t understand if we played that way. Cholo Simeone is a great coach, but his style is different from Barça’s. It’s not a criticism.” 

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