Barcelona are in high spirits after overseeing a 0-1 win against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu during midweek. This propelled them to an early lead in a two-legged Copa del Rey semi-finals, with the second leg scheduled a month later.
However, they must now turn their attention towards La Liga, where Valencia awaits them. Barcelona are playing hosts and will have the chance to temporarily go ten points clear of Real Madrid on top of the table.
As is ritual, Xavi spoke to the media as part of his pre-game press conference to give key details regarding the fixture, squad, and the dressing room.
On Valencia: “We expect a Valencia that’ll defend well. They have gained in aggressiveness and intensity and we hope to be more dominant, create more scoring chances and it’s clear that we have to win.”
“It is another final for us. It’s very important to win against Valencia.”
“we want to go ten points clear before the Real Madrid match.”
On the criticism for their Madrid performance: “There is always noise around Barcelona. You have to know how to manage it from the inside.”
“From the outside, I don’t know but from the inside our analysis that Madrid pushed us a lot, and we don’t wat that. We were not able to maintain possession, but in big games, the opponent can sometimes dominate you.”
“We see to have possessions of 60, 70, or even 80%. But without the ball, we were very good.”
“Barcelona is the toughest club in the world. You win 0-1 at the Bernabeu, and some are not convinced. If it happens to another team, it will be a national holiday. In Barcelona, you have to win and maintain 70% possession.”
On set-pieces: “We practice free-kicks everyday. Today, Ansu, Raphinha, and Alonso scored great goals in training. We need to be successful in the match, but I’m confident about it.”
On Jules Kounde: “Kounde prefers to play as a centre-back, but there are circumstances for the team and he adapts very well. He is a defensive guarantee, an amazing signing for us.”
On Ronald Araujo: “Araujo also prefers to play centrally, but there are circumstances and sometimes it’s for the need of the team.”
On his suspension: “I suppose I will be higher up where I can see the game and the spaces better. Not being with the team does not change anything, it will be the same structure as the match, the only difference is that I won’t be able to be on the bench.”
On Sergi Roberto’s extension: “It is great news. For me, he is extraordinary. Even though I know they criticise him from the outside, he is a guarantee for us.”
On Sergio Busquets’ future: “Of course, I want Busquets to continue. But it will depend on him.”
On injuries: “Christensen will be ready for tomorrow. Lewandowski has improved and is feeling well. Pedri and Dembele are continuing their own recovery.”
On Marcos Alonso: “His performance has been very good. He has adapted well in central defence, and wins aerial duels and covers those behind him well. He is fast for his height. I’m very happy to have him with us.”
On Estanis: “He is very versatile. He can play on the left or right, and is very strong. He has the qualities to be a very important player.”
On Ansu Fati: “All forwards have to score. I see Fati is fine, he will be important to the team, I’m sure.”
On Franck Kessie: “We are very happy with Kessie because he is giving us a lot. He loses very few balls, and works very hard for the team. He as been patient and is now taking advantage of his minutes.”