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Pedri talks Xavi, Gundogan, Gavi, Christensen, Mbappe, Cubarsi ahead of Barcelona vs PSG



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will lock horns with PSG in over 24 hours in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie.

Having secured a 3-2 win over the Parisian giants in the first leg in France last week, Xavi Hernandez & co. will be out to finish the job tomorrow at Estadi Lluis Companys in Montjuic.

Ahead of the big blockbuster encounter on Tuesday night, Barcelona midfield maestro Pedri appeared in front of the media for the pre-match press conference, during which he discussed several topics related to him and the team.

Kicking things off, Pedri gave an insight into the mood of the team as well as his personal sensations heading into tomorrow’s game against PSG, saying:

“The team is very eager and excited to face a match as important as the one we have tomorrow. I’m coming from a bad moment personally, but I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”

It has been yet another season filled with injuries for Pedri, with the midfielder having faced three separate spells on the sidelines. When asked how he was feeling physically, he replied:

“I’m lucky that when I go on the pitch I don’t think about the injuries I’ve had. I’m at the top of my game. The desire and the excitement make up for everything else.”

Pedri’s contract with Barcelona expires in 2026 and there have been talks about a new deal being in the works for him. So, when quizzed on his future at the club, the 21-year-old remarked:

“I am very calm and I know that Barça will keep what we have talked about.”

On the importance of the game against PSG, Pedri added: “It could be the most important, like the Euro semi-finals. I’ve been thinking about playing these nights at Barcelona for a long time.”

Barcelona have been on a brilliant run of form of late, having strung together a 13-game unbeaten streak since Xavi announced his decision to leave at the end of the season.

Pedri acknowledged that the announcement has had some influence on the improvement of the team, saying:

“About Xavi’s announcement, it had to be something to do with it. We’re on a very long run and we’ve improved on clean sheets and being strong at the back. This makes a difference.”

Commenting on the condition of the squad heading into the match, the midfielder commented:

“Even though I wasn’t with the team for a long time, like Frenkie or Andreas, the team has held its own. We are a very complete squad and the important thing is to be united, especially when injuries hit.”

Pedri believes Barcelona are ready for the fight vs PSG. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

On who he thinks is the favourites to win on Tuesday, Pedri refrained from picking one, but stated that the fans will enjoy what’s in store.

“It’s true that everyone likes to talk about favourites. I think we are two very evenly matched teams and it’s going to be a beautiful game for the spectators. We’ll try to do our best to win it,” he remarked.

“We have to be cautious because Paris are going all out. They’re going to try to turn it around and it’s true that we have this advantage, but we have to go out and beat Paris,” the Spaniard further warned.

Pedri then lavished praise on midfield partner Ilkay Gundogan, saying it was a delight to play with the former Manchester City captain.

“Gündo is a spectacular player. Since I met him in the pre-season I’ve seen him. It’s a pleasure to play with him and I learn a lot from him in training. He has some spectacular numbers,” he remarked.

On his role in the midfield department and where he prefers to play, Pedri replied: “There are two positions in which I feel comfortable. At the base you play more of the ball and have more involvement and up top you are more for the final pass and finishing. I like both and I try to do my best.”

Discussing the maturity of this young Barcelona team, the midfielder noted that they are still working to get better on that aspect, saying:

“Yes, it’s an improvement mentally. When we concede a goal we spent 10-15 minutes hesitating. We’re young and it’s something we’re going to improve with time. In Paris, we turned it around and we have a lot of credit for what we did.”

On how the team is feeling heading into the game and if there was any message he’d like to convey to the fans, Pedri said:

“We face this game with a lot of enthusiasm and desire. We want to give the fans something to cheer about. I’d tell them to be with us, that we’ll go out there and give it our all.”

There have been doubts about whether Pedri is ready to play the full 90 minutes given that he has only recently returned from injury. When asked if he felt up for it, the midfielder said:

“I feel strong and I always want to play in these games. As long as I’m up for it, I’ll give everything on the pitch. After that, I’ll ask for a substitution if I have to.”

Earlier today, Barcelona president Joan Laporta showed up at the training session to provide his support to the team. Discussing what he told the squad, Pedri stated:

“He told us to give our all and to go out to the game with a lot of enthusiasm. The presi passed that on to us.”

Pedri then heaped praise on Barcelona youngster Pau Cubarsi, praising him for his distribution skills at the age of 17, saying:

“I love him. A centre-back who filters so many balls is a joy for the team. I’ve never seen a centre-back with those characteristics at the age of 17. In the duels it’s difficult to see him lose one. He’s a great person and I laugh a lot with him.”

The midfielder also commented on the absences of Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen, who are suspended for tomorrow’s game, as he said:

“Andreas and Sergi helped us a lot. I’m going to go out intense, to win every game. Let’s hope we don’t notice the absentees.”

The Spanish international also had a few words to say about his good friend and fellow midfielder Gavi, who is currently injured.

“With long injuries like Balde and Gavi it’s complicated. It hurts my soul, because I know what he is feeling. Of course this goes for him and the injured,” remarked Pedri.

On the threat posed by Kylian Mbappe and PSG, Pedri said: “You have to have the ball and make sure they don’t create chances. Not just Kylian, but also Ous [Ousmane Dembele] and Barcola. We have to try to make up for the advantages they have in one-on-ones.”

Reminiscing the 6-1 remontada against PSG from 2017, Pedri insisted that he hoped this Barcelona side can give fans similar joy tomorrow.

“It’s a game that sticks in your mind. I couldn’t believe how it happened. These are games that stick in your mind and I hope we can give the fans another joy,” he said.

Signing off, Pedri stated what he expects from tomorrow’s game, saying: “It’s going to be an intense game and they’re going to press us up front. Everyone is going to fight for possession.

“Both teams want it and it’s difficult to make up for it when another team plays well. Whoever has the ball will win the game.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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