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Xavi talks Lewandowski, Ferran, Araujo, Christensen, Romeu, Gundogan, Cancelo ahead of Barcelona vs Getafe



Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will be looking to close down the gap to the top two sides in La Liga when they lock horns with Getafe at home on Saturday.

Xavi’s men have struggled to defeat Getafe in recent times, winning just one of their previous four fixtures, with the last two ending in goalless draws.

The Blaugrana, coming on the back of a 1-1 draw vs Napoli in the UEFA Champions League, will be eager to set the record straight against Getafe and bounce back to winning ways.

Xavi discusses Getafe

On the eve of the game, Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez spoke to the media in his press conference and discussed why Getafe are such a hard team to get past.

“Tomorrow is a very important game against Getafe, they are very well coached by Bordalás. They are not a defensive team, for me they are a brave team with a very high defensive line. They have taken points at the Metropolitano and they always compete,” said Xavi.

“They are a complicated opponent, but they are three very important points for the fight for the league title.”

When asked about the aggressive style of Jose Bordalas’ side and the role that referees will have in tomorrow’s game, Xavi said:

“I don’t talk about referees any more. I like Bordalás’ aggressiveness and he’s getting a lot out of his teams. They press you very high up and we will have to do things very well to get out of the pressure. They’re getting good performances and that’s to be praised.”

On whether he expects a defensive Getafe side tomorrow, he said: “Getafe take advantage of any set-piece situation and transitions, but I don’t think they are going to close down at the back. They’re going to have a high defensive line. I don’t see a defensive Getafe.”

On how he plans on dealing with the threat of in-form Mason Greenwood, Xavi said: “We won’t do anything special. He’s a player we have to keep an eye on. Getafe have very good players. Milla, Mayoral is scoring goals, and Greenwood is making a difference.”

On the squad and players

Back among the goals. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Barça boss then discussed Robert Lewandowski’s recent improved form, claiming that it was a result of a collective improvement from the entire team.

“Robert is a consequence of the team’s improvement. He is better positioned and we are attacking and defending in a more organised way. Maybe he’s being more effective, but that’s because we’re better positioned,” he remarked.

There had been talk of Xavi rotating his troops heading into the game against Getafe, but the manager insisted that he plans on fielding his best XI, saying:

“We’ll see how we all get there. We have almost no time to rest and it’s time for the best players to play. We won’t make many changes. It’s an important game for the rest of the league.”

Xavi then discussed the condition of injured forward Ferran Torres, but did not give an exact return date for the Spaniard, as he said: “We’ll see how he feels, but at the moment he’s good. I can’t give you an exact date.”

The 44-year-old also commented on the situation of Oriol Romeu, who is struggling with fitness issues, and gave his two cents behind the usage of Andreas Christensen in the defensive midfield role, saying:

“Oriol has been struggling lately. He is making a plan to be at one hundred per cent. Andreas is giving us balance defensively. We have had more control and more dominance with Andreas in this position.”

Xavi also stressed how important Ronald Araujo is to the team, claiming that he was the present and the future of this Barcelona side.

“For me there is no doubt. Araujo is the present and the future of Barça. He is already one of the captains and a leader in the dressing room. He is a fundamental player for the future of the club,” he remarked.

There was also praise reserved for Ilkay Gundogan, as Xavi said: “He can make a difference from the base of the box. He is making a difference, not just with numbers. He is a fundamental player for us.”

Joao Cancelo also earned some praise from the manager, with Xavi saying: “He’s playing very well and his contribution is fantastic. Sometimes he’s too high, but he’s also closer to goal. I’m happy with Joao’s performance.”

Barcelona have a number of players facing the risk of suspension due to accumulation of cards. But Xavi insisted that they cannot think of it and just need to focus on playing, as he said:

“We try not to think about it. When they are out, they are going to be out. We can’t think about that. We have to compete in the best possible way and try not to accumulate any more yellow cards. We have to win the three points, which would mean a lot to us.”

On La Liga title race and scheduling

Barça are behind Real Madrid and Girona in La Liga. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

On the team’s chances of clawing their way back into the La Liga title race, Xavi said: “We will fight for La Liga until it is mathematically possible. We can’t fail at home. Tomorrow is very important to try to pull one back, but we know it’s complicated.”

“We have a week to rest until next Sunday. If we win, we would be in second place and it would be good to put pressure on Girona and Madrid,” he added.

On having to play on a Saturday after playing their Champions League game on Wednesday, Xavi said: “It would be better for us to play on Sunday, but we have been given this schedule and there are no excuses.

“We have two and a half days to rest and we’ll compete tomorrow.”

The manager also discussed why they were unable to seal the deal against Napoli in midweek, saying:

“On a physical level we are very good, maybe it was a bit of a mental issue. We should have calmed the game down and Napoli dominated us for those ten minutes. It wasn’t a physical issue.”

On his decision to leave and the future

Xavi announced last month that he will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season. It was expected that the players would react positively to the announcement and show some improvement.

When asked if he had seen that reaction from his players, the manager said: “I think the decision is the right one. The team needs a change at the end of the season. I see positively that the team has taken a step forward. We are playing better football.”

A number of top managers like Thomas Tuchel, Hansi Flick, and Roberto De Zerbi have been linked as Xavi’s replacements. When asked about his thoughts on who should take over from him, the 44-year-old replied:

“I don’t know. In the end it’s Deco and the president who have to decide. He should have Barça DNA.”

On the criticism that he and his team have had to cop over the course of the season, Xavi said: “The team is ready to compete. We have little time to recover, but tomorrow we will compete as always. The players have taken a step forward with their performance.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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