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Xavi talks Roque, Bergvall, Lewandowski, Laporta, injuries, Real Madrid TV ahead of Alaves vs Barcelona



Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will be eager to register back-to-back wins in La Liga when they take on Deportivo Alaves on Saturday evening at Estadio Mendizorrotza.

After difficult results against the likes of Athletic Club and Villarreal, Barça returned to winning ways this week, defeating CA Osasuna 1-0. And Xavi Hernandez & co. will be keen on building on that and generating momentum heading into the business end of the season.

But Alaves will not make things easy for the reigning La Liga champions, having been in a good run of form themselves.

On Alaves game and injuries

Discussing the Alaves clash in his press conference, Barcelona manager Xavi said: “It’s a difficult game, because they are a very intense opponent who have won three consecutive games in the league. García Plaza transmits their aggressiveness to them.

“We catch them at their best and at home they give even more, but we need the three points to keep climbing up the table.”

Injuries continue to pile up for Barcelona, with as many as nine players unavailable for the trip to Vitoria due to fitness problems. Blaming the unrelenting schedule for the issues, the manager said:

“I think the travel has piled up. We’ve hardly been able to train. There have been ten games in a month. The schedule has been the worst. No team in the world has had this schedule.

“We’ve been unlucky: we’ve had two hernias, injuries that we’ve picked up on our own… it’s the fault of not being able to rest enough to compete well.”

“We work a lot on injury prevention. Everyone goes with their GPS, but it’s part of the calendar. Sometimes we call the federation to get a rest day, but they have their own way of working. It’s difficult,” he further added.

On the La Liga title race, he commented: “The first thing is to beat Alaves, because they are a difficult opponent. After that, we have to wait and see. Madrid and Girona have done better and that’s the reality. There are 16 games left to compete, but I want to take it step by step.”

On the type of game he is expecting against Alaves, Xavi added: “I expect a game similar to the one at Montjuïc. We have to minimise their counters, but they have very quick players. We have to attack well, but be very attentive after losing the ball, because at home it cost us a lot.”

On the players and the squad

Xavi wants to proceed with caution with Roque. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Vitor Roque was the match-winner against Osasuna earlier this week for Barcelona, leading to speculations that the teenager may start tomorrow against Alaves. However, Xavi insisted that they must proceed cautiously with the 18-year-old, saying:

“Vitor Roque is coming off a long injury and has improved his physical condition. The goal will free him up, but we have to be cautious because he still needs minutes to get back to his best condition.”

Discussing the impact of his decision to leave on the dressing room, Xavi insisted that the players will not relax and keep working hard, saying:

“Anyone who says that the players are going to relax has never been in a dressing room. Only those who have played football can understand that. If we lose tomorrow and lose the Champions League, the decision will not have been the right one, but I think we will get better.”

Xavi also commented on Barcelona missing out on Lucas Bergvall, who has opted to join Tottenham as they offered him a first-team spot right away when he arrives in June.

“It’s the market situation. The players see that we are betting on 16-year-olds and they want to go straight into the first team. It’s the market,” said the Barça boss.

Even though Robert Lewandowski is struggling to deliver of late, Xavi praised the veteran striker, saying: “Lewandowski is exemplary. He trains, he asks me how he can help. What he has said is what he feels physically and we have to help him.

“We have to feed him with balls and make sure he can hold his position. With age, the spark is less, so you have to play with a different mentality. He is open to improve”.

On Laporta and decision to leave

Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave a detailed interview earlier today during which he claimed that the thought of sacking Xavi has never entered his mind and that if it was someone else at the helm, the axe would have been swung already.

Reacting to the president’s words, the 44-year-old said: “If the objectives are not met, I will have to leave. The president says so and it will happen to the next coach.

“When I arrived we achieved the objective, even with the chance to fight for the league, the second season was very good, but in the third we are not meeting expectations. I am no exception.”

“What the president says is what I said a month and a half ago and that is why I have decided to leave. I’m not leaving because of the press or because of my mental health, I’m leaving because the objectives and expectations are not being met,” he further added.

Xavi will leave at the end of the season. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

The manager then added that outside Barcelona, the work done by him and his staff was appreciated, thanking his colleagues like Marcelino and Imanol Alguacil for their words in support of him.

“Outside here, our work is highly valued. The real football people, the professionals, all the coaches congratulate us as a staff. Imanol, Arrasate, Marcelino… but here it is not valued. This is my feeling. I think we have done a good job and I still hope to do a better job between now and the end of the season,” he stated.

Standing firm on his decision to leave, Xavi said: “I told the president that the club needed a change of direction for the good of the club. I put the good of the club first”.

Further elaborating on the reasons behind his decision to step down, he added: “I’m leaving because it’s two and a half years and I think that the process of being Barça coach doesn’t pay off.

“You fight against a lot of things and that causes wear and tear. I think that you don’t enjoy the day-to-day and I’ve seen that in coaches who have had, who have suffered even when they’ve won.

On Real Madrid TV and referees

Backing Laporta’s stance against Real Madrid TV pressuring referees through videos, Xavi said: “I don’t like the fact that Madrid TV puts pressure on the referees. The referees are influenced. The Negreira case hasn’t helped either, but we have to compete with that.

“I agree one hundred percent with the president’s words. It’s a reality and we can’t deceive Barcelona fans.”

Echoing the sentiments of the president, he added that La Liga was getting ‘adulterated’ due to the alleged influence by Real Madrid TV.

“I am not the president of the Federation or the president of La Liga, but I am surprised that we allow what Real Madrid TV is doing. It adulterates the competition. It happens match by match. A blind man sees it. Simeone said it, that we are not fools. Everyone can see it, but it’s the media who have to say it,” remarked Xavi.

Source: SPORT

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