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Xavi talks Lewandowski, Christensen, Yamal, Pedri after Napoli 1-1 Barcelona: “Bittersweet feeling”

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Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona played one of their best games of the season tonight as they made the trip to Naples to face off against Napoli for the first leg of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League round of 16.

The Catalans created chances early on in the game, and looked far more confident and composed with the ball at their feet. And were eventually rewarded for their hard work as Robert Lewandowski found a way through, with Pedri assisting him.

Unfortunately, their lead only lasted 15 minutes as a mistake from Inigo Martinez paved the way for Victor Osimhen to score.

Eventually the game finished 1-1, which is a good result to take to the Catalan capital for the second leg, but Barcelona fans, much like Xavi, would be thinking they deserved a win.

“I have a bittersweet feeling. We should have won the match, it was in our hands. We played well,” Xavi said, as quoted by SPORT.

“In the first half they did not create a single chance. After we scored the goal, we lacked the pause and control of the game.”

“What a shame. It’s not a bad result, but we played much better. If we play like this in the second leg, we should be able to go through,” he added.

Barcelona’s backline should be commended for their performance today, keeping Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia at bay for most of the game. However, as Xavi pointed out, the Naples outfit still looked like a physically superior side.

“Physically, Napoli are superior to us. They win more duels, but we competed well.”

“This is the Champions League. When you concede like that, you draw a match that you should have won.”

“Napoli played a great match and they made it difficult for us. We’ll see in the return leg. We will have our fans, which goes in our favor. Our goal is to reach the quarter finals,” Xavi said about the fixture.

However he added that playing at the Montjuic is not quite the same as the Camp Nou.

“We all miss the Camp Nou. Montjuïc is not the same. A return leg at the Camp Nou would have been way different.”

He also made sure to name-check some players, starting with Robert Lewandowski, who has five goals in his last four appearances for Barcelona, including a brilliant finish today into the near post.

“Lewandowski is a natural leader. He’s in great form and he’s scoring our goals. He’s helping us a lot.”

Xavi also talked about Andreas Christensen, who played as a pivot tonight, for the fourth game running, and was mostly solid, especially out of possession.

“I think Christensen played quite well. He only lost a few balls.”

“Our goal was to find numeric superiority with Christensen, De Jong, Pedri and Gündo. I think that we executed our plan well. We found Pedri and Gündo between the lines many times.”

“Lamine Yamal is only 16 years old and he’s a massive talent. He plays like he’s at the park,” Xavi also said.

Finally, he concluded by saying, “We still have a couple of months left until June, but I think that my decision was necessary. It’s the best thing for me, but especially for the club. Barcelona needs a change.”

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