Xavi talks Araujo, Rashford, ten Hag, de Jong, UCL ahead of Barcelona vs Man United
For the second consecutive season, Barcelona have been relegated to the Europa League after finishing third in the Champions League group stages.
They were kicked out of the competition last year by Eintracht Frankfurt, but already face a tougher competition this time around in the knockout stages as they have been drawn up against Manchester United.
This clash holds a ton of historical importance due to the two side’s rivarly in the UCL, and the English outfit are in rather impressive form, sitting third in the Premier League.
Ahead of the game, Xavi spoke to the media as part of his press-game press conference.
On Manchester United: “It will be a great match. The two are in their best form of the season. I think ten Hag changed the form of the team and is doing an outstanding job.”
“You can see in the last matches how Manchester United were very strong, and have improved a lot.”
“A lot of things can complicate a match. I expect a game with a lot of intensity and rhythm. It’s Europe and we want to show that we can compete aginst a top-level European competitor.”
“The clash will be decided at Old Trafford. I imagine very even matches, with a very close result. A few things will be decided tomorrow and we will have the second leg, which unfortunately we will not play at home.”
“We cannot make the mistake we made last year vs Frankfurt. You learn from mistakes and hope it does not happen again.”
“For me, ten Hag s a great coach and it was not easy to reverse United’s situation and I think he’s succeeding. They have made a lot of changes in attack, they have modified the idea of the game. Most of the team attacks. He’s an offensive coach.”
On marking Rashford with Araujo: “I don’t like to talk about these things. There are several players, not just Rashford. They are distinguished in transitions and counter-attacks, and we have to stop them.”
“Araujo is a leader, regardless of his physical, technical, and tactical conditions. He prints his personality on the defensive line with leadership, and he has all the capabilities to make a mark at the club.”
“Rashford is one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe right now.”
“We have to pay close attention to the whole team, but especially Rashford.”
On the pressure: “We don’t feel the pressure. The euphoria in the team is good, and we see people excited and we feel humbled to go far in this competition.”
On de Jong’s United rumours: “He wanted to stay with us, and there are no doubts. Now, he is with us, and I am happy with his performance and leaders. I think he’s having fun on the field and that’s the most important thing.”
On the UCL: “I still feel angry about not being in the Champions League. I think because of the history and the greatness of the club, we should always be in the UCL, but we did not deserve that and we have to accept the reality.”
On Bartomeu paying referees: “I try to focus on the sporting side. We finished training and I heard about it. The club published an official statement. That’s it.”