First team, English Press conferences

Xavi: “We’re given as favorites, but it will be a very difficult tie”

Xavi speaking to the media ahead of Thursday’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt / IMAGO / Jan Huebner

Xavi Hernandez and Ferran Torres spoke to the media at a press conference on Wednesday evening ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt at Deutsche Bank Park. They spoke about the match, their recent success, Ronald Araújo’s contract negotiations, and more.

Here is what Xavi said about:

The first match against Eintracht Frankfurt

“For us it’s a new stadium, a new city, it’s a great stadium. I believe that it will be a great atmosphere. It’s a great please to be here. The approach doesn’t change: we will try to play the same at home as away, press high, try to do what we’ve been doing in the last two months. Eintracht is a great team. Physically, they’re very strong, and I would highlight the transition. Looking at the draw, we weren’t lucky. We’re given as favorites, but it will be a very difficult tie.”

The replacement right-back, being that Sergiño Dest and Dani Alves are out

“We can play with Ronald [Araújo], with Eric [Garcia]… Maybe Eric can give us more opportunities, but Ronald is also giving us a lot of things. He chooses better every time and is capable of playing where we put him.” 

Ronald Araújo being close to renewing his contract with the club

“For us it is a guarantee to be able to count on him. Barça has a central defender for 10 years or more. He is improving. The key has been him. He is very happy at Barça, I am delighted with him. He is a hard worker, very sacrificed, and he is a great person. His decision has been to stay at Barça, and I think he is right.”

The possible renewal of Ousmane Dembélé’s contract

“The club is working. Hopefully we can count on him. We are a better team with him, with Ronald, with Gavi… If we can get them to continue, we will have a better squad.”

His highlights of Eintracht Frankfurt

“They have important people in front of them, like Santos Borré, the three central defenders, whoever plays, are good. A great goalkeeper with [Kevin] Trapp, with a great coach. They are a very well-organized rival. We haven’t had any luck in the draw.”

Danger of relaxing in tomorrow’s match

“It would be a danger to relax now. Today one cannot relax. You cannot lack attitude. If not, they will pass over us. If they win, we will congratulate them, but there will be no relaxation.” 

Eintracht Frankfurt’s strengths

“It’s a very good team, they showed it against Betis. They have a difficult system to counteract, against lanes, a midfielder, two strikers… It’s not going to be easy at all, and even more so knowing that it’s going to be for them a historic match. We have to match that motivation. If not, they will pass us over.”

Tough competition in the final stages

“There are different teams, Leipzig, Lyon, Eintracht… We can’t think beyond tomorrow. We have to play a good game, try to win here. I repeat that we were unlucky in the draw because we had a very tough opponent.”

The atmosphere inside Deutsche Bank Park

“They told us that the atmosphere here is fantastic. We’ll see tomorrow, we also came from playing in Turkey. We have to take the game where we want, avoid transitions. We’re in great form, but tomorrow is another movie.”

Keys to success on Thursday

“One of the keys is to not lose balls. These risks must be minimized, not to lose balls in the construction zone.” 

Dembélé training on the team’s day off

“I can only speak since November that I have been in charge, and he is being exemplary, because of how he trains, his attitude, his commitment… I don’t know how he was before, but I see him very motivated and very happy. It doesn’t surprise me because I see him as a great professional.”

How long he’ll wait for Dembélé’s decision

“In the end it is a negotiation. We are also in Ronald’s [negotiation], which is half closed, there is Gavi’s, Ousmane’s, Sergi Roberto’s… The club knows my priorities in the sporting section, and hopefully he can stay. Well worked, he can be one of the best in his position. There are very few with the conditions of Ousmane.” 

If he has any bad qualities as a coach

“Ferran wants to play (laughs). He has a brutal personality. We have a fantastic group, we have a good atmosphere. The fact of winning also benefits us, without more. I have my leadership, but they also have theirs. Win or lose, we’re a family.”

If he hopes Dembélé stays

“I don’t know what else to say. I hope he stays. I would sign him now. But the club is not in the best financial situation and we have to adjust. Ousmane is one of the best players on the wing, he has the ability to overwhelm.”

How to make Barça happy

“I’m very happy with how things are going, but we haven’t done anything. I’m very happy that Barcelona fans have very good feelings, but praise can’t confuse us. We don’t have to stop working, to be humble… I’m here for Barça to win and for people to feel proud of the team.”

Five players on a yellow card

“We have been looking at it, but it will not affect when making the line-up. In the end, it is 180 minutes, or something more if we tie, but it will not affect the decision.” 

The last two successful months

“Being at Barça is a roller coaster: there are moments of maximum happiness or maximum sorrow. The result makes us either very good or very bad, but this is Barça. There are moments that I am enjoying and others, I’m suffering from them.”

The importance of Adama

“He will be important. We have games tomorrow, Sunday, Thursday… Adama will be important.”

Ferran Torres spoke to the media before Xavi in Frankfurt / IMAGO / Jan Huebner

Here is what Ferran said about:

The team’s current state ahead of Thursday’s match

“I see the team very motivated. It’s a very important game for us. It’s the first time we visit this stadium, and we want to get our first victory.”

Xavi’s impact on his current form

“Xavi has been very important in my adaptation. I’m in good form, and the important thing is that I’m helping the team.”

If he feels pressure to score goals

“Those of us who play up front have to score goals and give assists. I’m more into giving assists, but also if I have chances, I have to take advantage of them and score goals.”

Pedri

“Those of us who train with him on a daily basis are not surprised. He is a luxury. Today, he is already one of the best in the world, and I think he can mark an era.” 

Playing in Germany

“It’s special because it’s the first time that I play here. Frankfurt is going to have a physical game, but we have to go to play our game.”

Xavi’s impact on the squad and the club

“I would highlight the DNA, the leadership, and the fact that he doesn’t put pressure on us players. He has given a great change to the club.” 

Eintracht Frankfurt

“It is a very physical team, which is in great shape.”

If there is overconfidence for Thursday’s match

“No, if the coach transmits something to us, it is that we have to go game by game. If we lose tomorrow, nobody remembers the dynamics that we bring. That’s why we have to go for the game.”

What he would tell Ousmane Dembélé

“I would kidnap him here in Barcelona. He is a differential player, this is a good club to be at, but in the end it is his decision. What he decides is what is best for him.”

Winning the Europa League

“Barça has to win titles. Tomorrow is the first step to try to win this Europa League title, and we’re going to try to achieve it.”