Barça’s coach, Xavi Hernández, spoke this Friday at a press conference prior to the match against Betis in which if the azulgrana win, they will get a place in the Champions League, their minimum objective this season. These were Xavi’s impressions.
Is it a day to step forward like on a hot streak?
Hopefully. We have a golden opportunity again. One of the goals is to qualify for the Champions League and Betis is a direct rival. For us this is a key game. We have to meet the minimum goals for the club. It is not easy but we are motivated. Betis has a great coach and great players, they are Cup champions and it is a difficult game but we will try to certify the Champions League.
How are Ter Stegen and Piqué?
Ter Stegen was not feeling well. Yesterday he already had stomach upset. He wants to be but today he felt bad. Gerard has problems with his abductor tendon. Tomorrow it will be low. It’s a shame because he is an important player, but he has made a little effort and now he is paying for it.
Does the 0-4 have more value for what Madrid has done?
We valued it in those moments. Now too. But that did not mean any title. I think the difference is that we, at the moment we could finish it off, finished it off. Madrid, history says, if you forgive them the 0-2 or the 0-3 they come back. We give a lot of importance to the 0-4 of course. And winning that way and how we did it tells us how we have to compete.
Is next year’s goal to reach at least the Champions League semifinals?
We cannot think about future goals. Now, we have to get to the Champions League. Then there will be signings and economic planning and we will see and assess the objectives.
What atmosphere do you expect?
I expect a rival with a lot of confidence. They are celebrating, they are flying. They are having a great season. We have to congratulate Betis, Pellegrini. They are having a historic season and a difficult game awaits us tomorrow. They have good individualities and also a good team game.
Given what happened at the Bernabéu, do you think that Barça would be capable of eliminating the best in Europe by pulling epic?
We have a different game model and another game team. And we have been able to win games that we saw lost as in San Sebastián or Villarreal. There are circumstances. But Madrid has this. When you forgive him, he can come back from games. There is no more secret. If they had made us 1-2 they would surely have come back and they have faith. It is your DNA. We have another type of game. The one who deserves it the most doesn’t always win, it’s that capricious.
How is Ansu?
Good. He has trained well, he is physically prepared. But we have to be cautious. The idea is to gradually enter. He is training well but let’s see how he is. It will help us for sure.
Does Barça still have more game than goal?
In many games yes. The losses to Rayo and Cádiz came after shooting 25 and 28 times. Efficiency needs to be improved. Today it is crucial to get ahead on the scoreboard. I think we’re playing well and Mallorca’s day was a good game in my opinion. We have improved since November and the pity is that the latest results have not followed.
What is Xavi’s message to those who think that the epic of Madrid is better than the Barça of great football?
It is the message of the history of Barça. It would take us years to play or win otherwise. I don’t know if ten, fifteen, twenty years. Playing with this game model we have achieved five Champions and the recognition of people worldwide. People always remember Guardiola’s Barça, Messi, and they recognize you as the best team in history. Aside from winning, how you win is important. I do not have doubts. And if you lose and tie, you have to insist to believe. At Barça, the way is this. The message is that you have to insist and you have to believe. And it’s not me as a coach and it’s someone else, but you have to go that way. History tells us. Competing out there, the culé feels more proud of how. And without comparisons with any team, the player enjoys.
How will it affect Madrid in general to fight for first place?
In November they told me that Barça’s main objective was to enter the Champions League. From here, I have come to fight for titles and we will see next year. But this year it is clear that the goal is to enter the Champions League. We have to be realistic because this is our situation. From here the year.
Why have they decided to make the corridor?
For us it is clear. It is a sign of respect and sportsmanship, without more. Betis deserves it, without more. For me there is no need to think beyond respect and sportsmanship. If we don’t teach that, we would make a mistake. I told them that at the time I made a corridor for Madrid and I had no problem. The rest are controversies and stories. For us it is sportsmanship and respect. Yes we will corridor.
Would it be taking a weight off your shoulders to win tomorrow?
Sure. In the end, we are fighting for a minimum but it is like that. We have to win tomorrow and try to qualify for the Champions League. There are two main objectives and they go through winning tomorrow.
How important is Gavi’s renewal?
Much. I’ve said it many times. He is a current player and I hope they reach an agreement. I understand that the will of the player, the agent, Iván de la Peña, and the club is that they continue. It would be good news.
This week there is a lot of talk about the strength of a t-shirt. What do you think of that statement?
As a coach, I try to give the players all the confidence. Let them see that we are on top. We constantly monitor you. Most I think have gotten better at the game since November. From here, the Barça shirt weighs more than anywhere else. I said it already. I have seen colleagues who have embroidered it in other clubs and here it has cost them. Barça is excellence and you have to go look for them. There are so many things that make it weigh more.