Barcelona Napoli: Xavi: “What this team has done with so many young people has a lot of merit” | Soccer | Sports


Xavi Hernández kept calling Lamine Yamal. The Barça coach corrected the young winger’s defensive errors: he wanted him to be as sharp in attack as he was collaborative in defense, always close to Koundé to protect the Napoli left wing in which the skillful Kvaratskhelia commanded.


Ter Stegen, Pau Cubarsí, Cancelo, Koundé, Ronald Araújo, A. Christensen (Oriol Romeu, min. 60), Gündogan, Fermín López, Lamine Yamal, Raphinha (João Félix, min. 80) and Lewandowski



Alex Meret, Juan Jesus, Di Lorenzo, Mário Rui (Mathías Olivera, min. 63), Rrahmani, Hamed Junior Traore (Giacomo Raspadori, min. 78), Lobotka, Franck Zambo, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Cyril Ngonge, min. 92), Politano (Jesper Lindstrom, min. 63) and Victor Osimhen

Goals 1-0 min. 14: Fermin Lopez. 2-0 min. 16: I cancel. 2-1 min. 29: Rrahmani. 3-1 min. 83: Lewandowski.

Referee Danny Makkelie

Yellow cards A. Christensen (min. 19), Lamine Yamal (min. 43), Juan Jesus (min. 47), Hamed Junior Traore (min. 63) and Mathías Olivera (min. 66)

Xavi wanted to recover the team’s attitude at Diego Armando Maradona, in short, he wanted to recover the aggressiveness of last season when Barça won the League and the Spanish Super Cup. “We played a great, complete game. The team has been very good with and without the ball. And they have not given us any cons or transitions. “It has been emptied,” said Xavi. Without the injured Gavi, the Barça driving force was Fermín López, symbol of a team free of complexes to the rhythm of the two pearls of the quarry: Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsí.

“We started the first half hour well. Then, they pushed a little more. Personally, happy to help the team. The stadium was full and we have noticed its strength,” said Fermín López. The blue and red flares that greeted Xavi’s boys announced a big game in Montjuïc, as well as the price of the tickets (249 euros for a seat with reduced visibility), of course the high presence of Naples fans (about 3,000), all controlled by a helicopter that warned of a high-risk duel, according to the police, in the magical mountain of Barcelona. The result, the best entry of the season: 50,301 spectators. The vertigo of the stands spread to the grass.

The fans were confident, as was the Barça coach who opted for a young lineup: Barcelona, ​​the first team in the history of the Champions League to take to the field with two players under 18 years of age in a tie for the top European competition: Lamine Yamal ( 16 years and 243 days) and Pau Cubarsí (17 years and 50 days). “My game is to do it calmly. Do what I know and, if I can help the team, perfect. I like to come out with the ball played from behind and in duels I give 200 percent,” said Cubarsí, chosen as the best player of the match.

To the solvency of the center back and the football of the winger, Fermín López’s nerve was added. La Masia to power in Europe. “Football has no age, they are players who have a different talent. The responsibility belongs to everyone, it is good to know that we have quality at home. The young people have to have fun, but it is a game of responsibility in general,” warned Deco, Barça sports director. It was precisely the vertigo of the youth players that fueled Barça, supported by a committed Lewandowski (movable in the first two goals, scorer in the last) and an aggressive player to attack spaces like Raphinha.

The Brazilian forward did not score. However, he assisted Fermín López and hit the post before Cancelo made it 2-0. The electric version of Barcelona needed a proactive Xavi on the bench. And, as soon as he noticed that fresh legs were needed in the midfield, the coach changed two of his three midfielders in one fell swoop: Oriol Romeu and Sergi Roberto for Fermín López and Christensen.

Once again, the strategy worked for Xavi. “Sergi and Oriol have given us freshness. João Félix too, I think everyone has been very good. “What this team has done with so many young people has a lot of merit,” said Xavi. And he stuck out his chest: “People didn’t believe me, they said I was going to lose the locker room. We have received a lot of unfair criticism. Today it has been shown that the team is prepared to compete in Europe. We have been around excellent.” Captain Sergi Roberto assisted Lewandowski as Barcelona sealed their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after four years. Sports relief for Xavi and economic relief for Joan Laporta: to the 36 million that he already has insured, he adds another 10.6 million to sneak into the top eight in Europe.

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