Xavi Hernández, Barcelona coach, has classified this Sunday’s game at San Mamés (9:00 p.m., Movistar) as “a final”. That he did try to avoid talking about the Negreira case: “It is an issue that occupies the president and he tells us that we are calm. We haven’t talked about it in the locker room, we are here for and for football and now we are focused on San Mamés”.
Asked if Real Madrid, a week after the classic, seeks to destabilize Barcelona, after announcing an emergency meeting of its management team to evaluate the Negreira issue, Xavi commented that he does not know what the white entity is after. “I can’t get into the rival’s skin. He is not going to destabilize us, in any case Vinicius, Modric and Courtois will. We are focused on the football field”, insists Xavi, who does not know if Real Madrid may feel harmed by this whole matter. He added that his team is not affected by the noise that is being made with the Negreira case. “We are working the same, the same as last week and a year ago. Nothing else. We have not talked about extra-sports issues, ”he summarized.
Regarding the match against Athletic, he pointed out: “The moment of truth has arrived, all the remaining matches are already final, and to begin with, you have to show your face and stature, win a sensational football war like the ones that take place in the Athletic field”, stated the Barça coach. “It is very important to maintain the difference of nine points with Madrid until the arrival of the classic”, which will be played on the 19th at the Camp Nou. “The meeting in Bilbao is as important or more than the one in Madrid.”
With the match set out in this way, Xavi will not speculate on the line-up nor will he take into account that four of his players are threatened with suspension: Kessié, Busquets, Ferran and Raphinha. “We are not going to play with the brake to avoid sanctions. We are going to play with everything and then we will have a week to prepare the appointment with Madrid”, announced the Barcelona coach, who will not be able to count on Araujo, who has been suspended. But he gets Lewandowski back.
“Robert is a guy like Ronaldinho and Messi,” Xavi explained. “He has changed the mentality of the team, he is a natural leader. Everyone grows around him and therefore it is important that he talks, that he communicates as he already does with me,” he added. “We talk about football and its evolution; Before he was not so fast or so physical, so physical and the rivals did not push you so high. The trainers have also changed a lot. You have to adapt. But our idea of the game does not change ”, he stressed after agreeing with Lewandowski. “The Barça game of 10 years ago might not work today,” the striker told the Barcelona media.
“We have missed Lewandowski a lot,” remarked the coach regarding the Pichichi. “He makes the difference, he is transcendental, he has changed the mentality of the team and he will be very important in San Mamés. It will be vital for an intense, strong game and in which they will push us a lot; without a doubt one of the most difficult outings of the ones we have left in the League”. Xavi also specified that the Williams brothers “destroyed you in the transitions of Athletic”. The Barça coach is much more concerned with Athletic than the renewal of his contract that ends in 2024.
“Would you like to become Barça’s Ferguson?” He was asked at the press conference. “I see it difficult at Barça. Hopefully. I love being here and going on,” he added. “I am very grateful to the president for saying that he is considering renewing me but everything depends on the results; Now is not the time to talk about renewing when I still have a year on my contract. I don’t care about continuity but about winning titles”, finished Xavi.
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