Tactical Insights

Xavi admits ‘less time than more left’ as Barcelona manager

Xavi Hernández said he has “less time than more” left as Barcelona coach after a new wave of criticism following Wednesday’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal exit at the hands of Athletic Club.

Xavi, 44, led Barça to their first LaLiga title since 2019 last year but the team have not kicked on this season, with this month’s 4-1 Spanish Supercopa final defeat to Real Madrid and the midweek Copa elimination increasing the pressure on him.

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“We have been speaking about my future since July when we lost against Arsenal in a friendly,” Xavi said ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga game against Villarreal.

“I am calm, we are doing a good job. I live in a different reality to you [the media]. I know the club. I have been at the club for a long time, luckily or not.

“I get all the noise; it’s not a problem. If we got passed Athletic, we would be talking about Barça being back now.

“I have been in the job for over two years and I have less time than more left, if you look at the precedents. Pep [Guardiola] was here for four years; Luis Enrique for three. The point will arrive when I go, don’t worry.”

Xavi, who has said he will leave in the summer if the club are not competing at the end of the season, added that he hopes he will be missed when that moment does finally arrive.

“At this club, we always value people when they are about to leave,” he continued. “Now we value [Ernesto] Valverde, [Ronald] Koeman, [Sergio] Busquets, when he was massacred in his final years here.

“[Jordi] Alba, too. It is something to reflect on. I hope you miss me, too. I can value what I have. I am at the best club in the world, I appreciate coming to work, I am happy. I know the demands are high, but I value things in the moment, not after.

“Maybe I am the only one who understands the reality of the club. Given the historical level of difficulty, I think we are doing a good job: the board, the players … In June we will see where we are and make decisions.”

Barça’s failure in the Supercopa and the Copa means hopes of silverware this season now rest on LaLiga and the Champions League. They are eight points back from leaders Girona in the league, while they face Napoli in the round of 16 in Europe.

“I always think positively,” Xavi said. “We can get back in the title race in LaLiga and we are massively looking forward to the Champions League.

“The club tell me that they have complete confidence in me and that I can forget about not continuing. They are happy and proud of the project — the president could not be more positive. But it’s all about winning.”

Barça will be without left-back Alejandro Balde against Villarreal after he suffered a potentially season-ending hamstring injury in the defeat against Athletic.

Xavi says after consultations with the club’s medical team, Balde must now decide in the coming days whether he should undergo surgery or opt for a more conservative method of treatment.

Barça also remain without Gavi, Marcos Alonso, Iñigo Martínez, Raphinha and Marc-André ter Stegen, although the Germany goalkeeper did return to training on Friday after two months out of action.

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