Xavi talks Messi, Manchester United, coaching Barcelona, and criticism
Barcelona’s poor run in the UEFA Champions League earlier this season is part of the reason why their phenomenal run in La Liga has gone under the radar.
Despite the Catalans playing some of the most attractive football in Europe, a streak of unfortunate injuries cost them a spot in the UCL Knockouts and pushed them to the second-tier competition for a second consecutive season.
Xavi Hernandez spoke to Indian Outlet Hindustan Times earlier this week where he spoke extensively about the team’s upcoming clash in the Europa League and the opponents they stand to face. Here are the snippets from his interview.
The Spanish tactician did not have it easy at the club in his early days as the manager. Despite his rich history with Barcelona,
Xavi has been held against the highest standards and has not seen any concession on criticism. He first detailed the pressure at the club for both managers and players.
“It’s difficult to manage Barcelona. We have a lot of pressure. We need to win titles. Fortunately, I know the club and the environment.”
While it is true that Xavi has been heavily scrutinized at Barcelona, his special bond with the club and fanbase is a factor whose importance words cannot describe.
The coach revealed his thoughts on the importance of having the fans backing and the advantages he faced having been a former player.
“I’ve been here as a player for 24 years, so I’m proud and honoured to be the coach of Barcelona. I know the pressure here, many people criticise us, but this is Barcelona. I accept this challenge. I’m happy to be here. We need to win titles to avoid criticism.”
Barcelona face Manchester United in their first round of the Europa League. Xavi emphasised that a nailbiting clash was on the cards and that it would be in no way easy.
We were not lucky in the draw because we have to face Manchester United. They are on a good run. It’s always a pleasure to play at Old Trafford. Ten Hag is doing a good job, they have very good players and it’s goopen be really difficult to beat them.”
The legendary midfielder called the clash between the two European giants one at par with the Champions League, thus putting into perspective the quality of football that can be expected over the two legs later this month.
“Yes, both clubs are more or less at a similar point. We are coming back. Manchester United and Barcelona, both are in the Europa League. I think both teams deserve to be in the Champions League, but this is our reality and we need to face it.”
The motto of Xavi’s project at Barcelona has been remodelling and restructuring a team in transition. The manager identified that their European opponents were also in a similar stage and shared his thoughts on Erik Ten Hag.
Manchester United and Barcelona have had many problems in the last 2-3 years. But I think we are coming back. In my opinion, (Erik) Ten Hag is doing a very good job. Both teams are in a similar process (of revival).”
Xavi’s interaction with the Indian outlet ended with a question about Lionel Messi’s possible return to Barcelona as a player, to which he replied,
“Why not? I think it depends on him. What he wants, what he feels. Of course, Barcelona is always Messi’s home. Doors will be opened for Leo, especially if I am the coach here. Let us see what he wants to do. The decision depends on Messi more than the club.”
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