BARCELONA, 18 Sep. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The coach of FC Barcelona, 5-0 against Real Betis and to believe that they can once again be among the greats of Europe, although to do so they will have to, first, “compete.”
“It is an illusion to return to this competition, it is time to take a step forward in Europe and fully believe in becoming great in Europe again. It is the ideal moment, we are in good form and playing, we start at home, against our fans, and we want to give continuity to Betis in this competition that we face with great enthusiasm,” he said at a press conference.
“The Betis thing is proof that we can compete in the ‘Champions’. Then in the second round we will see who it is our turn, but first we have to pass. Our intention is to show our face, play good football and we will get closer. We cannot make assumptions “We want to compete and play well,” he added.
Xavi sees the dressing room “very motivated and excited” and ready to show in Europe the game seen against Betis in Montjuïc. “We have to transfer Saturday’s game to this competition, with brilliant moments. This is the path, and even what it gives us. When I arrived, we were not able to compete. Last year we were able to compete but there were no results “This year it must be enough to compete and to have results, we want to take the leap,” he reiterated.
“The objective is to pass the group and then we will talk. We have to be in the pot of the round of 16, because we have not done so for two years. We have to go step by step; and the clear objective is to pass and as first in the group. The Last year the results were not enough for us. We have strengthened ourselves well, we have a squad to compete in Europe but we have to prove it,” he commented on the objective.
Xavi claimed to be positive, and with that mentality he wants to improve the bad statistic of 4 games won out of 16 in Europe since his arrival. “I have extraordinary pressure, like everyone. But it is a challenge to compete for this ‘Champions’ and I like challenges. But the players play, I have to motivate them. Last year we had a lot of misfortune in the draw, with Bayern and Inter. This year we have to show things, it is a validation to show that in ‘Champions’ we can compete well,” he argued.
He believes that, despite the bad results of the recent past and not winning a ‘Champions’ since 2015, the club still has the “demand” of the more distant past, the one that had Xavi in the team and marveled with Pep Guardiola in the bench. “There is a demand and the bar is very high. This is a consequence of Barça in recent years, of our time as footballers. They won ‘Champions’ and the level of demand is that and we accept it because we like challenges,” he accepted. .
Of course, he does not believe he has lost the respect of his rivals despite the fact that Barça has been eliminated twice in a row in the group stage. “When I went to the Bayern and Inter camp I noticed respect. We have to earn it, it’s clear, especially at the media level. People now see a strong Barça but we have to take a step forward, because we haven’t won since 2015. We have to take a step forward and above all compete,” he stated.
They will face the Belgian champion, a Royal Antwerp team coached by their former Barça teammate Mark van Bommel. “I have great memories of Mark van Bommel as a teammate and as a rival. Very strong midfielder, with a lot of arrival and with goals. I have great memories, as a footballer and friend. He is doing a good job, they won the League and they are giving him continuity. “They are a very strong rival and I would highlight their flanks, with Janssen as their point of reference. They have a good goalkeeper. They have a technical level and that is why they won the Belgian League,” he highlighted.