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Xavi: “Memphis and Lenglet are 100 percent and training well”

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

After a convincing win against Napoli in the Europa League, FC Barcelona return to the Camp Nou to face Athletic Club in LaLiga on Sunday. Xavi spoke to the press on Saturday, where he talked about the upcoming match, Frenkie, Dest and much more.

Here’s what Barça manager Xavi had to say:

On the match against Athletic Club

“I don’t think Marcelino will change his idea of ​​the game much. He’s a great coach, he demands a lot from them. They are a very physical rival, who can close down or press up. They’re the last ones to have beaten us. They have a Cup match on Wednesday, perhaps the most important of their season. We want to consolidate ourselves. We are a different team from the one that went to San Mamés in January. It will be complicated, a very difficult rival.”

On possible changes in the lineup

“We have changed a little and they have done the same. But we have improved, we have more dynamism… players play with more confidence. We have improved but we have to prove it every game. And against an opponent who is very fit. They won the derby 4-0, they are in the Cup semi-final… we have to show that we have improved.”

About Memphis and Lenglet

“They are 100 percent and training well and if there is no setback they will be in the squad. Memphis has to be an important player, like Lenglet. They are two important players and it will depend on them and their performance.” 

On if there is too much excitement around the team

“It’s fine, but you have to be realistic and prudent and work with humility and calm. This goes game by game. Every game is a final. We don’t rule anything out, but knowing that it will be very difficult to win the league, the numbers say so. I’m glad the president is eager and euphoric, he’s a natural leader and I think it’s fine.”

On if the best days have returned

“There is enthusiasm and we have to keep working, with the same sacrifice. The feeling is that the team, win, draw or lose, will give everything. We need the fans to be with us.”

On if this is the Barça he wants to see

“We must improve. We still lose a lot of balls, sometimes we should be ashamed to lose the ball, there are many points to improve but there is an important improvement. We continue but we have to improve, we cannot say that we are at a very high level, at times yes, but others, no.”

On the goals against Napoli

“This is also Barça DNA, if they press us high, the space is generated. I remember Villa, Hristo or Henry scoring goals into space, it’s not a counterattack, it’s taking advantage of the spaces generated. And scoring from corners doesn’t change the style of play. No problem.” 

On Frenkie

“Highlights his personality, he is very demanding with himself, and the great match he made the other day, it is difficult to play better. We insist that he tries the shot, that it be transcendent, he is a great footballer, there is no doubt. He is very strong mentally, we make a lot of individual videos and it helps him improve. He is very humble and it is difficult to find this profile.”

On the goal with 22 touches in Naples

“I know where I am, it is a position of great responsibility and this is about excellence, this is about winning and doing very well, I am in a highly demanding club. We have to win and play well and we return to the idea of ​​the game that has made us great, and that people identify with the team’s game is fundamental. And I know that this week there are praises but in the same way it can happen the other way around.”

On the Williams brothers 

“They are very fast, they are smart on the counterattack, they take advantage of the spaces and I imagine Athletic on the counterattack and we will have to stop them, it will not be easy. They have a very high level, physically and technically. We are talking about an Athletic team with an important generation of players.”

On the goals conceded

“It’s an aspect to improve, try to keep a clean sheet. We believe that we will always score and we have to keep a clean sheet, minimizing our mistakes, lack of concentration.”

On the role of the interiors and if he would see himself playing in this Barça team

“I would like to play, of course, but it has already happened to me. I try to make them enjoy it, it is to understand the game, what it requires, whether to come or go, that they attack, that they score, that they are transcendent. That is what they instilled in me, when Rijkaard also put me on the inside.”

On the importance of scoring first

“Nowadays, when the rivals are closed, getting ahead is transcendent in the game. Having players like Adama, Ferran or Auba is critical, how they work and also press, how they generate, how they understand the game, they are very mature in the game. They make the difference.”

On the weakness in defense

“We have to improve, in strategy, mistakes, lack of concentration, throwing the line. We do things well and then some things badly, we still have room for improvement, to be more reliable and solid. And if we win, even better.”

On the bet with Puyol about winning the league

“We’ll go to dinner the same way. He’s very optimistic and has a lot of confidence in me and I’m glad, but the math says otherwise. I wish we had him in the dressing room.”

On Dest

“He is having a very good last month, we corrected things in defense, he dares in attack, he is at a very high level and we are happy. He had some discomfort in his back that did not allow him to play comfortably, and he is showing that he has the level to play.”

On the winter signings

“Without them, it would be more difficult, of course. Aubameyang doesn’t surprise me, he has quality and works for the team. Adama has surprised me in his decision-making, he has matured. And Ferran seems to me to be a footballer of another level, spectacular. How he understands the spaces, he associates, he doesn’t lose balls, he is a world class player. He is a spectacular signing and a wonderful footballer.”

  

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