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Xavi talks Lewandowski, Gavi, Pena, Araujo, Fati, Memphis ahead of Intercity vs Barcelona

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will lock horns with third division side CF Intercity in the Round of 32 of the 2022/23 Copa del Rey on Wednesday night.

Coming into the game on the back of a disappointing draw in the Catalan derby against RCD Espanyol, the Blaugrana will be itching to produce a strong reaction and return to winning ways immediately.

Given their early elimination from the UEFA Champions League, it has become even more important for Xavi Hernandez & co. to go all the way in the Copa del Rey tournament and they cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball as an early exit will heap pressure on the team and the manager.

Ahead of this David vs Goliath encounter coming our way from Alicante, Barcelona boss Xavi addressed the media and discussed his squad and the derby controversy, among several other topics.

On the Copa del Rey: “It’s always very difficult for us in the first game of the Cup, I remember eliminations against Figueres and Gramanet, and it’s a round full of surprises. We have Intercity’s report because they played against the reserve team.”

On Inaki Pena’s availability: “We have already presented the documents for him to become a first team player and we are waiting for the Federation’s resolution. He is on the call-up list because we believe he will be able to play.”

On Espanyol’s complaint over Robert Lewandowski’s usage in the derby: “We did what a judge told us to do. We have done what we had to do. If Espanyol think they should contest, that’s up to them.”

On their aim for the Copa del Rey: “For us La Liga is the most important objective outside of the Champions League, but we are very excited about the Cup and it is very important, we want to compete for it.”

On team selection: “The idea is to rotate and give minutes to players who haven’t played for a long time, such as Eric and Araujo.”

On Lewandowski and Pedri’s omission from the squad: “He stays out because he is carrying a lot of load and because we are confident that he can continue with the precautionary measure and play against Atlético Madrid. So, rest for him and Pedri.”

On Gavi’s fitness: “Gavi is fine, he had a calf bruise, he couldn’t run and asked to be replaced, but he is pure passion and is available.”

On Lewandowski’s ban situation: “I told him to be calm. Uncertainty is not good. It’s not an easy situation for us or for our rivals and I hope that everything will be resolved soon.”

On Jordi Alba’s suspension: “There will be no appeal. We had thought about it, but we were told that it was very difficult to succeed.”

On yesterday’s open training session: “There were 15,000 people at yesterday’s training session, there was a lot of excitement, it’s good to know that it’s still happening and the aim is to make them happy.”

On training on New Year’s Day and if he will rest players on Three Kings’ Day: “The challenge of the derby was to rest if we won, but I haven’t thought about the Three Kings’ Day. I only think about the victory.”

On relying too much on Lewandowski: “We have to improve our effectiveness because Robert is not always going to be on target. We also need to add goals from the second line, from shots from outside the area, from strategy.”

On Memphis Depay’s future: “I don’t want anyone to leave. With these players, we will compete. I’m happy with what I have. Memphis can help us in attack. He will be important and he will get minutes.”

Xavi wants Memphis to stay (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

On Ronald Araujo: “He is one hundred per cent. He will start tomorrow and he will help us with his leadership, with his aggressiveness.”

On the presence of former Barcelona players at Intercity: “They have eight players who have come through the club and that makes it more challenging, as they will want to prove themselves. They will be very motivated.”

On Ansu Fati: “He has the talent that is hard to find at the top. He’s got a goal and it’s up to us to give him the support he needs to get it.”

On Pablo Torre: “He is a first-team player and will have important minutes tomorrow. When he doesn’t play, he knows that he can drop down to the reserve team.”

On January transfers: “I have already said that I am happy with what I have. We have a great squad and I don’t want to talk about other names.”

On right-back options: “We have Bellerín as our natural right-back, but there are options such as Sergi Roberto, Koundé, Araujo and Balde, who has done very well in both profiles.”

On the format of Copa del Rey: “I think this format is good for the spectators. It’s part of football that there are surprises. Everyone competes and works very well. We have to be ready.”

Source: BarçaTV+

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