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Xavi: “There can’t be any player who doesn’t press”

Xavi Hernández at a press conference ahead of Barcelona's second leg fixture against Galatasaray / Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Xavi Hernández at a press conference ahead of Barcelona’s second leg fixture against Galatasaray / Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Xavi and Aubameyang sat down with the press before tomorrow’s Europa League tie against Galatasaray. They spoke about the first leg, the opponent, the stadium among other things.

FC Barcelona arrive in Turkey to settle the Europa League Round of 16 tie with Galatasaray. The Catalan side is hungry for a win after leaving the scores level in the first leg of the fixture. Xavi and Aubameyang answered the questions by the press before tomorrow’s match.

Aubameyang spoke to the press first. This is what he had to say :

On tomorrow’s fixture

“We know what awaits us tomorrow. It’s a very important game for us and we’re in good spirits. They played very well in the first game but tomorrow we are going to put more intensity to surprise their defense.”

On his goals:

“I expected them because I’m working hard. In a team like Barça, it’s easier.”

On maintaining his level:

“With the work and with everything we are doing in training, I think I can maintain this level. I am looking forward to it and hopefully, I can continue like this.”

On his preferred position:

“I don’t know, really. Here I feel very good as a center forward, but Arsenal felt better on the left.”

On learning from Xavi:

“The coach already knew what I can do, what he has taught me is the intensity and the spaces in which Barça can play. This is what we have done so far.”

On El Clásico:

“Now, the most important thing is tomorrow. It’s a European game and we’re ready. We know what we have to do tomorrow to win.”

On the squad:

“I’ve been very happy since I arrived. When you arrive at a big club like Barça, what you expect is for things to go well. The other day, I tried to make the fans enjoy themselves and take some photos with them.”

On Dembélé:

“I have seen him train very well, with a lot of enthusiasm. He is doing very well, with assists and goals. I have known him for many years. We have fun together. The most important thing is that he is happy and that he works. We have already talked a little bit. In the end, we will have to see what his decision is. I would like him to stay one, two, or more years, we will see what happens.”

On playing against Galatasaray in the past:

“Yes, I remember the games I’ve played here. It’s always special because of the atmosphere that is created. I have a lot of respect for Gomis, both for him and for his career. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a very good person as well.”

That concludes Aubameyang’s press conference. Xavi replaced him and sat down with the press. This is what he had to say :

On tomorrow’s fixture:

“For us, it’s a final, it’s heads or tails. The first leg was not good, we didn’t come out with intensity. The reference is the Osasuna match, where we were intense and we soon managed to get through in front. Tomorrow is a final, in a stadium where they cheer and shout more. We have to try to do what we already did in Naples. I have the feeling that we will find ourselves in a match very similar to the first leg, with a medium or low block. We will try to find solutions to attack in a better way. We made mistakes and they were very good in defense, and Iñaki was extraordinary. We are very excited and eager to go to the next round. It’s more a question of interpreting how we have to attack. If we understand it well, we have many options to pass, but we also have to control the counterattacks. For them, it’s also a final and they play at home”

On resting Busquets tomorrow for the sake of El Clasico:

“We’ll see. At the moment, we are focused on tomorrow’s game. On Sunday, there will be time to think after the game. Busquets is essential in the team’s machinery, in leadership. He is the key piece.”

On winning the Europa League:

“For us, the main objective is to be in the Champions League. Now, we are in the Europa League, which if we win would give us access to the Champions League. We are very excited, even if it is the Europa League, we are really looking forward to it.”

On message to Culés if Madrid sign both Haaland and Mbappé:

“We’re working on the present, and tomorrow we want to win and go through to the next round. The club is working for the future, but the team is still more important than individual players.”

On the agreement with Spotify:

“I think it’s very good, as it connects the team and the fans. It’s an important brand. It’s young, modern music. I’m very happy, very satisfied. I congratulate the marketing department for the work they have done.”

On the areas in which they can improve:

“We can improve in a lot of aspects. The aerial game near the area, stopping counterattacks, two-on-two situations on the wing. There are many aspects that we have to improve to be a reliable team at the back.”

On what they expected from Galatasaray in the first leg:

“We knew it was going to be difficult, but I decided to rest Piqué, who had discomfort, and Busquets, who accumulated many minutes. It wasn’t to detract from Galatasaray, far from it, and even more so knowing that they have a great coach like Domènec, whom we know and who we knew was going to pose a difficult match for us.”

On not having the home advantage:

“We play on a difficult pitch. It’s not our pitch, their fans will cheer a lot. What happens will affect the team psychologically. We hope we can win.”

On managing the pressure before games:

“I take the pressure naturally, I like it. I’m very competitive, I’m a winner and we like to experience these situations. We didn’t have the best result in the first leg, but I see it as an opportunity. We’re in the same situation we were on the day in Naples and from there we came out very strengthened. This is Europe and nobody is going to give you anything. The physical issue, above all, is the inconvenience. We try to make a specific plan so that the players who play tomorrow recover and arrive well on Sunday.”

On his pressing style:

“In our game model, pressure is one of the bases. Even the striker has to press, so there can’t be any player who doesn’t press.”