The happy reunion of Xavi and Sergi Roberto | Soccer | Sports

Xavi Hernández walked calmly along the edge of the Montjuïc field, greeted the people he met and even took a few minutes to chat with Bruno, a child in a wheelchair who is part of the project delusions of the Barcelona Foundation, which encourages the meeting of children with serious illnesses with the club’s players and coaches. “Before games I am always calm,” explained the coach. The anxiety, in any case, was latent. Xavi needed to vindicate himself against Naples, at least, as he demonstrated after the match: “We have been unfairly criticized.” And there were few better scenarios than the Champions League against the current Italian champion, currently in the doldrums in Serie A (seventh in the table, 31 points behind the leader Inter Milan).

3

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

1

Naples

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

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 had a plan. Or several plans, but all with the same idea of ​​the game: jam Napoli. “They are looking for the same thing as us, which is to be protagonists with the ball. It’s a very physical team, too. Whoever has the ball more will have a lot to gain,” the Barcelona coach anticipated. At first, the plan worked. The Blaugrana played close to the Neapolitan team’s area, effective in front of goal, but not very patient when it came to taking care of the ball. The first half ended with 44% possession for Barça. “We have started well, they have gone 2-1. It is normal that a team like Naples can score against you,” explained Sergi Roberto. The captain of Barcelona, ​​always careful in front of the microphones, at times underestimated by Barcelona fans, is the eternal lifeguard on the field. And that’s why he took to the field when the team needed him most.

With Fermín López melted and the team already without weight in the transitions, Xavi looked for Sergi Roberto on the bench: the experience of the Reus footballer at the service of the ball. “We couldn’t keep the ball and Sergi understood perfectly what had to be done in the game. His entry freed Gündogan and allowed us to control Naples,” they explain in the Barcelona sports area. And with Roberto as the owner in the midfield, Barça began to dominate the field by 54% in the second half. In addition, the captain handed the third Barça goal to Lewandowski. “I could have finished, but the play turned out perfectly. I saw that Robert was alone at the penalty spot,” shared Sergi Roberto. And he finished: “I’m happy.”

The claim, then, was not only Xavi’s. One of his protégés (perhaps the most) stood out against Naples. But he did it in his own style, discreet, without public revenge or old paranoia. “Incredible night, four years without being where this club should be. Very happy. Enjoy this moment. The fans have been with us and that is very important. The Camp Nou is very different, but we need this atmosphere in every game,” celebrated the Barcelona captain, who in 34 minutes on the field recorded three chances created, 22 good passes (84%), four losses in 32 actions and three ball recoveries.

If Sergi Roberto continues at Barcelona it is precisely because Xavi is in charge of the first team. Last season, when the Barça sports team was discussing Roberto’s continuity, the coach intervened to convince the captain. Roberto knows Xavi from his time as a player. At that time, the current captain had only accumulated 57 games in the first team. “Sergi is today with young people as Xavi and Puyol were with him. He pays attention to what they do and takes care of them,” says a Barcelona employee. But since Xavi announced his goodbye, Roberto’s entourage has already concluded his time at Barça. “What happens with Sergi is strange. He is a player who can play in many positions and, in all of them, he works. But he is not valued. He doesn’t understand himself,” explains a member of the federation’s sports area. As if in Madrid they valued him more than in Barcelona, ​​Roberto covers his ears against criticism. The same thing doesn’t happen to Xavi. Together, in any case, they lifted Barça against Naples and celebrated their passage to the quarterfinals. So different, just as happy.

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