Transfer Rumors and News

Xavi talks Pedri, Roque, ter Stegen, Fermin, Laporta, Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona vs Mallorca

Barcelona will be eager to bounce back to winning ways when they take on RCD Mallorca at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in La Liga on Friday night.

The goalless draw against Athletic Club last weekend meant that the Catalans let go of an excellent chance to close down the gap to the top of the table.

And with both Real Madrid and Girona scheduled to play later in the weekend, tomorrow’s game provides the reigning champions to put some pressure on the top two with a victory.

On the eve of the match, manager Xavi Hernandez spoke to the media as part of his customary pre-match press conference, discussing various topics.

Discussing what his team can expect from Mallorca tomorrow, Xavi said: “They are having a great season, especially in the cup. Aguirre works very well with his teams, they are doing very well with that line of five. They are very solid, tough and know what they are playing for. Difficult opponent.”

The manager then had some positive news regarding the injury of key midfielder Pedri, claiming that the problem is not as serious as the club initially feared.

“What we are trying to do is injury prevention, I think we have done an impeccable job, especially Pedri. I have already told him that this is the last injury. It’s not as serious as we thought,” he said.

“I’m sure he’ll come back and be important. He’s not the first player to be injured. I’m sure he’ll come back and be important. He’s not the first player to be injured.”

Commenting further on the midfielder’s recurring injury issues, Xavi added: “This is not the first one that happens to him that at the beginning of his career, he has a lot of injuries and then he doesn’t get injured anymore.

“It’s not easy to manage the pressure at his young age, I think there’s an issue that he has to convince himself that he will recover and be fine.”

Regarding the visit of Spain national team director Albert Luque visiting Barcelona to meet Pedri, Xavi added:

“The important thing for Pedri is that he is well. It’s not about coming back on the day of the Clásico, nor about recovering for the European Championship. He doesn’t have to think about anything other than recovering 100%. With Albert Luque we are in constant contact, I have a good relationship. He’s from Terrassa just like me.”

Pedri’s injury not as bad as initially feared. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Opening up on what went wrong for his team against Athletic Club last weekend, Xavi remarked: “Between words and what happens on the pitch there is a world. I think we have prepared the match very well, I think we had a lot of opportunities to attack well, to defend….

“Here it’s very easy to talk, you have to do it on the pitch and that’s not so easy. The example is the match in Getafe, we’ll see if we’re capable.”

Xavi was then asked for his opinion about the rumours of Luis Enrique succeeding him in the summer, but he refused to comment on the speculations, saying:

“I won’t talk about coaches, we have a lot at stake this season. Tomorrow we play Mallorca, who are in the cup final. This is not the time to talk about the future, neither about coaches nor signings.”

There have been speculations that Xavi will make some rotations for tomorrow’s game, which the manager confirmed, saying:

“Tomorrow we will probably make some changes compared to the other day. We have to think about the players, not because Tuesday is a Champions League game. We are thinking about fatigue, the accumulation of minutes… not because Tuesday is an important game.”

Today marks the third anniversary of Joan Laporta getting elected as the Barcelona president and Xavi provided an assessment of the tenure, saying:

“Well, from the inside I have a very positive assessment. Without wanting to criticise, I think that the president found a club in a very complicated economic moment, also at institutional and sporting level….

“I think they are doing a good job. I have already said that we are halfway to doing something great. For me Laporta is the best president in the history of Barcelona and he has to prove it again. He is capable, he is a leader, he is positive…. If there is any person capable of getting Barça out of this situation, it is precisely Laporta.”

The manager was once again asked about the referees and the Real Madrid TV videos putting pressure, but he refused to elaborate on the matter, saying: “I think I’ve already assessed it, you know what I think, there’s no need to insist.”

On being asked to compare his team to Real Madrid, following the latter’s narrow escape against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last night, Xavi said:

“I don’t know where the comparison would appear, but if we get 34 shots, it’s normal for us to lose the game. I repeat us, but it has also happened to us many times. This is the greatness of football.”

There has been a lot said about Vitor Roque’s lack of minutes since he arrived in January, but Xavi put it down to competition for places, as he said:

“Many times it’s the competition itself. It’s not easy, he’s had minutes, opportunities… if he earns it he’ll participate and play, like everyone else.”

Roque has not played regularly. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

On the lack of options in midfield and how he plans to rotate, Xavi said that they might look to deploy some players as makeshift central midfielders.

“There is not much to choose from in midfield at the moment. We have Fermín and Gündogan as natural midfielders. From there we have to reinvent players, as we have already done with Christensen, who I think is coming along very well,” he said.

“We can readapt Joao Félix, Ferran, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto… but they are not natural midfielders.”

On whether it is hard to convince the players that they can still win La Liga at this point, Xavi said: “We still have a chance and we believe we can win La Liga. We are not throwing in the towel and we will try until mathematically the numbers say we can’t.

“We are motivated despite being aware that against Athletic we missed an opportunity. But tomorrow we also have the chance to put the pressure on.”

Xavi also spoke highly of his captain Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who will be making his 400th club appearance for Barcelona tomorrow against Mallorca.

“I think the best way to define him is with Víctor Valdés, the best goalkeeper in Barça’s history and from there it’s nobility, personality, daring, captain, leader… I can think of a lot of adjectives. I think he is an example in the dressing room and on the pitch. A captain with capital letters,” the manager said.

With a league game against Atletico Madrid up next after Mallorca, Barcelona have four players at the risk of suspension. When asked about it, the manager replied:

“We have to take it one step at a time without thinking about the game that comes next, if we have to give a foul that carries a card, we’ll be sanctioned. We have to take it one step at a time.”

On how the injuries will impact his tactics and plans moving forward, Xavi said: “The system can be changed, but the model is very difficult to change, because you believe in the model.

“I think we should go on the attack, be offensive… but the system can be changed. Never the model. Unfortunately, this idea that we had at the beginning of the season with Pedri, Gavi, Frenkie… they have never been able to play together.”

With Fermin Lopez expected to start tomorrow, Xavi was asked if the youngster might be affected by the pressure. In response the manager said:

“I don’t think so, and even more so for Fermín. He is a perfectionist. He wants to do things excellently, he imposes a lot of things on himself and I imagine that he wouldn’t be happy at San Mamés and that’s normal, because maybe he wasn’t happy with his performance. That’s all, we trust him and he has the level for Barça’s first team.”

On the pressure there is at Barcelona to win always, Xavi said: “Barça always put pressure on you. You can imagine the maximum pressure that you’ve experienced in your life, because that’s what it’s like to coach Barça on a daily basis.

“The other day Ancelotti said that he doesn’t enjoy it, that he suffers, so that’s what I said a few months ago. You don’t enjoy it much and you suffer a lot. It’s normal, it’s Barça.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button