Xavi Hernandez appeared this Saturday in the preview of matchday 26 of the League Santander between Barcelona and the Athletic from Bilbao. The player from Egar arrives in high spirits after his latest results and qualification for the round of 16 of the Europe League after eliminating the Naples forcefully. It only has the confirmed loss of Jordi Alba, who is serving a sanction for this match, so he will be able to align what seems to be his gala eleven again, this time with Dani Alves in it.
“I don’t think Marcelino will change, neither the style nor the game. Marcelino is a great coach, who works well. He is a very physical opponent, who plays in a low block. He is the last rival who has beaten us. I don’t know if they will rotate. We look at ourselves, we seek to consolidate all the good we are doing. We are a different team from the one that played with them the last time in San Mamés. It will be a difficult game.”
We are a different team
“We will change little. They won’t change much either. We have improved in many facets of the game. We have more dynamism. Other movements are seen in attack. The players have gained confidence. We have improved but each game must be demonstrated. Every game is an exam. Athletic is in shape, they have beaten Real and are in the Cup semi-finals. They are a complicated rival. We must confirm our improvement with this game.”
Memphis and Lenglet
“They are training normally, they are fine. They are 100%. If there are no mishaps they will be on the list. There is much more confidence than at the beginning of the season. Memphis is a major footballer. There is competition and that is better for me. It depends on the performance of each player. But they are two important footballers, they must be. It depends on them and their performance.”
«It is good that there is enthusiasm and euphoria. We have to be realistic, we have to work calmly and be humble. We must prove it tomorrow too. That we are improving. Every game is a final, I still have the same speech as the first day. Without ruling out anything but it is very difficult to win the league. I am glad that the president is euphoric and eager. He is a natural leader and he seems fine to me ».
Illusion of the fans
«With great enthusiasm too. The people who stop me show me hope. We have to continue working with enthusiasm, with the same effort and sacrifice. You can win, draw or lose in football but at Barça you can only win. If we don’t win, we have to leave everything. Whether the team wins or loses, it will give everything and it is fundamental. We have to excite them again. We need the fans and thank them.”
what should improve
“We must improve in many aspects, we still lose unnecessary balls. We have to be ashamed to lose the ball on many occasions. We have to defend better in the box. There are many points to improve. But it is evidence that there is improvement since I took the equipment to now. We have to give the maximum and continue. We cannot say that we are at a very high level. At times yes, at others no. There is still a lot of room for improvement.”
«Madrid caught us on the counter just like we caught Napoli. When they squeeze us in midfield. I remember Stoichkov, Villa or Henry at the Bernabéu. This is football too. It is to take advantage of the spaces that are generated. It’s Barça DNA. Everything fits. A corner goal is very valid. It does not change the style or the model, we take advantage of the spaces and the weakness of the opponent. No problem”.
“The first thing to highlight is his personality. He is a very self-critical person. He always asks how he can improve. He has to keep up the level, he has the ability to make a difference. Let him test the shot. that it continues to be transcendent for the team. He is a great soccer player. There are times when he has had a hard time but he is a very strong and capable footballer. He is very critical. He is a humble person. He is a great footballer».
praise and criticism
“There will always be criticism. Nothing happens. I know where I am. I have a very responsible position. This is about excellence, about winning, about doing it very well. On the field off the field, at the press conferences, I know where I am, a highly demanding club. You have to win and play well. People like this, it is what we are training. It is the model that has made us great. We have to keep working. I accept criticism. This week there has been praise but the opposite will also happen.
«Nico and Iñaki are very fast. They generate many spaces, I imagine a fast Athletic on the counterattack. We must try to minimize them, it will not be easy. It will be difficult. They are high level footballers. We are talking about a very good Athletic. Of a generation of important footballers ».
Many goals conceded
“We have to get better at this. We have to try to keep a clean sheet. We must try to make the rival shoot as much, lack of concentration, fewer errors. It is one of the objectives in the short and medium term.
“I would like to play always. I really enjoyed it, and I hope the players with this game idea too. The idea is to understand the game. If it requires coming or attacking the play. We hope that he scores goals, that they are important. That’s what I ask of Pedri, Gavi, Nico, De Jong… They’re scoring goals, they’re generating and it’s important for us.”
“Getting ahead on the scoreboard is transcendent in the game. For us it is essential. The forwards not only generate goals, how they understand the game. Ferran is very mature in the game, as well as Aubameyang and Adama. That makes a difference.”
«We must improve in many aspects, in the line, strategy, concentration situations, individual errors… There are many aspects to improve, we must be self-critical. It is the room for improvement that I say. We have to be more reliable and solid. We are more credible if we are winning, it can be corrected better.
«We will go to dinner the same, he is a very optimistic guy, I thank him very much. He has confidence in me. I wish we had him in the locker room. Thank you so much. We are going to fight, we will try not to let him down. We are in a difficult situation with a big difference in points. We are going to fight until the math says otherwise.”
«Sergiño is having a very good last month and a half. We have corrected defensive things, he is daring up front. He is at a high level and will help us a lot. When I arrived he had discomfort that did not let him be comfortable. He is showing that he has the level to play. Everyone has to compete and performance will tell.”
«Auba does not surprise me, because he has always had scoring ability. He works a lot for the team, the desire he has. Adama has surprised me with the decision making. He chooses well. The one who has surprised me the most is Ferran Torres. He seems to me a footballer of another level. The work that he does for the team, how he presses, he associates well, he works on defense… he is a world top level player. I already liked it, but I can corroborate it.