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Xavi talks Pedri, Frenkie, Kessie, Manchester United after Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona

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Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona further strengthened their grip at the top spot in La Liga when they secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Villarreal away at Estadio de la Ceramica.

An early goal from Pedri proved to be the difference on the night as the Catalans bagged a crucial win at a difficult venue and stretched their lead over rivals Real Madrid to 11 points.

Manager Xavi Hernandez spoke to the media after the game and praised his players for the performance, while also talking about the upcoming UEFA Europa League contest against Manchester United at Camp Nou on Thursday.

On Franck Kessie: “Kessie was great today. He recovered many balls, distributed well… Everything for the team. He is very solid.”

On the team’s performance: “We tried to play out from the back. There are a lot if dangerous plays that we couldn’t score. We played well in a difficult stadium. Our pressing was excellent, but we couldn’t make the last pass. We missed the final pass today. We were not precise.”

On the win: “These are three vital points to keep on fighting for La Liga. The team is at the best it has ever been since I arrived.”

On Marc-Andre ter Stegen: “Marc was great again, with another clean sheets. Villarreal almost did not have any chances, except for a few coming from our mistakes.”

On Ronald Araujo: “Araujo is spectacular… Fast, aggressive, strong. He’s a top ‘correcting’ defender. With the ball, Ronald Araujo is the player that has improved the most with me.”

On Villarreal: “We had prepared the match with Chukwueze starting for them. Instead, they added an extra midfielder, which through us a little off guard at the beginning.”

On facing Manchester United next: “We analyzed Manchester United, and I can tell you: They are a great team. It will be very complicated.”

On the huge lead Barcelona have over Real Madrid: “11 points is not that big of a difference. There are still 17 matches left, but I’m happy with our progress so far. We still have to improve many things.”

On Barcelona picking up narrow wins: “Our defence is not our main weapon. We are a very offensive team, but we’re winning with minimal results because we’re missing the final pass. We had many clear chances to score more than one goal today. We’re a very offensive team.”

On the team’s defensive structure: “I am calm and happy with the midfielders we have. The first defender in the team is Robert, then Gavi and Rafinha. Everyone defends when we don’t have the ball.”

On Frenkie de Jong: “The key to finding this De Jong is how much we are trusting him. He feels comfortable on the pitch. Frenkie de Jong is a complete midfielder. He’s got everything to mark an era for Barcelona and make a difference. He’s playing very well.”

On Pedri: “Pedri feels comfortable with this setup, it is his natural position. He is at a very high level.”

On the Europa League clash vs United: “Now we move our focus to the match on Thursday. You never know with European competitions, it will be very tough, for sure.”

Source: BarçaTV+

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