Barcelona are flying high now after a slow start to the 2023/24 season, having registered successive 5-0 wins against Real Betis and Royal Antwerp at home.
Summer signings such as Ilkay Gundogan, Oriol Romeu, Joao Cancelo, and especially Joao Felix are settling in very well, and have already made a mark for themselves as undisputed starts at the club.
Xavi’s team are not unbeatable by any margin, though, and he acknowledged the difficulty of the game up next for them in the form of Celta Vigo.
“For us, the atmosphere at Montjuic is very important, we feel at home. Although, of course, it is not the Camp Nou. We won all the matches here, two of which convincing wins, but facing Celta will be difficult,” he said.
New signings and better players
Barcelona have certainly improved with all their summer signings finding their feet at the club soon and well, but Xavi made sure to credit other players as well, who have taken a leap of improvement from last season.
“In addition to the new signings, we have many players who have improved a lot since last year, such as Gavi, Kounde, Christensen, and the new players are also helping us. When you have good players, everything improves.”
“Oriol, Gavi, and Gundogan also score goals. They are high-level footballers and this is good for competition,” he added.
And as far as Felix is concerned, Xavi said, “He cooperates very well and can be another midfielder between the lines as well. Not only does Robert [Lewandowski] benefit from it, but also the entire team.”
“It’s early to talk about the signing of João Félix. Let’s see how things go, he’s happy, he’s helping us, like Cancelo. First we have to see how the season goes and hopefully he continues on this path.”
Vitor Roque picked up what looked like a serious injury yesterday when Athletico took on Internacional. Xavi was asked about any updates on his condition.
“With Vitor Roque, we are in contact. Doctor Pruna is in contact with Brazil continuously and we are waiting to find out how he is doing. We are following up on him, like all loaned players.”
The competition on the right-wing has heated up, with Ferran Torres, Raphinha, and Lamine Yamal all in contention to play there. All players have been performing brilliantly so far this season, and Xavi, for one, is very happy with this ‘problem’.
“This is a great problem. I am happy with these players. Lamine, Raphinha, and Ferran. There is a very important physical effort that requires enormous intensity and that is why there is a lot of change.”
Injury updates: Christensen, Araujo, Pedri
Xavi confirmed that Andreas Christensen had picked up a knock recently, and therefore, he was dealing with the Danish international cautiously, substituting him off for Inigo Martinez every now and then.
“Andreas was suffering from very minor discomfort, and we wanted to protect him. He had discomfort in his Achilles tendon, but a few days ago, he played 90 minutes and he is at 100%, this is very important.”
On the bright side, Ronald Araujo is back from injury, and is part of the squad list that will be hosting Celta.
“Ronald Araújo is a fundamental figure for us, he is very important, he’s a leader, a great corrector, his spirit is key for the team and little by little he will come in, with him we have a feeling of maximum security,” Xavi said on his return.
Finally, Pedri is still out with an injury, with no fixed return date. On the Spaniard, Xavi updated, “Pedri has good feelings. He’s a necessary player. We want him to feel his best and when he is ready, he will join.”
Xavi’s contract renewal
Xavi also said a bunch of things about his contract extension at Barcelona, which is basically an open secret at this point. He had confirmed it to the press last season itself, and has now updated that the announcement could take place soon.
“The renewal is sealed. It will be official soon.”
“We arrived at a difficult time, with difficult circumstances. The sports department and the team did a very good job. Two important titles were won last year, but we are still a work in progress. In the first year, we already showed positive things and this season, we must be decisive,” he added.
He was also asked to choose his best moment as a Barcelona coach so far, to which he replied, “I will go with the Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid in January.”