Barcelona boss Xavi faced the press on Saturday to preview his team’s next La Liga match against Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou.
The coach spoke about Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, fit-again Frenkie de Jong, Chadi Riad and Ferran Jutgla.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Celta
It’ll be different to Inter and Mallorca. They want the ball, want to be protagonists. They have a lot of presence in midfield. Last year they made life very difficult for us. Tomorrow we need to impose ourselves, our style of play. They just beat Betis, playing a very good game, it’s going to be tough. But after a loss, we need to react, and we expect a good game at home. But it won’t be easy.
Xavi on if he’ll rotate ahead of Inter
I’ll set up the best 11 players. Of course I take into account fatigue, niggles, but not because I’m focused on Inter. I’m focused now on winning against Celta. We are league leaders and hopefully we will stay there. After, we will think about the Champions League.
Xavi on if he holds a grudge against Inter ref
It’s interesting he was the same ref who didn’t call the penalty against Bayern. We feel hard done by, it was an injustice, but that’s it. Now I’m positive, happy, focused on beating Celta and then we’ll think about Inter. The only positive thing is that we still depend on ourselves to qualify in the Champions League.
Xavi on Griezmann
It’s not official yet. If an agreement has been reached it means all sides are happy and I wish the player the best.
Xavi on Frenkie de Jong
He can play as a central defender. We tried that in pre-season and he did very well. He’s a potent player, very fast, but we have other alternatives as well. We are lucky, we have many players who can play different positions but yes he’s an option.
Xavi on if De Jong will start
He could, he’s 100%, we’ll see tomorrow. He gives us a lot. He’s a fantastic player physically. Defensively he does important work for the team, he’s very generous, he arrives in the opponents’ box. He doesn’t lose many balls. He gives us a lot of energy. He can play on the left, right, in the midfield. It’s great to have him available again.
Xavi on Chadi Riad
Chadi, I saw him in pre-season and last year. He’s a central defender with a lot of quality. He’s very aggressive, brings the ball up, he has a big future, so I called him up and we’ll see if he has options to play. I’ve been following him and the entire team of course, but he is particularly a player who could give things to the first team so he could be important for us.
Xavi on what Dembele is missing
I’m very happy with Ousmane. I’ve said it since day one. We’ve given him a lot of confidence, we gave him some love, and he’s also given it back. He’s showed he’s a top professional. In many games he’s made the difference and he needs to do that in every match. He has the potential to do so but he needs to believe it more. He needs to score more, provide assists.
Xavi on how to defend Aspas
As a team, we don’t apply any individual marking, despite it being Iago Aspas. He’s a football player I like very much. He makes the difference and is important for his team. They will depend on him. We will defend collectively, but we will be very attentive to what we can do.
Xavi on Pique
Gerard is a strong player mentally. One of the strongest I’ve ever met and he’s helping us. Him, Busi, Jordi, Sergi are the captains and the leaders of the dressing room. I’m happy with them. I’ve said many times they will be very important for us and will be prepared when the team needs them. Now Gerard will be important for us when he plays for sure.
Xavi on Ronald Araujo
Right now he is recuperating. He’s a warrior. The other day he came to see us at training and he motivated us. His attitude was very motivating. If anyone can make a speedy recovery it’s Araujo.
Xavi on resting Busquets
I haven’t really thought about it yet. I’ve been thinking about winning the game and having enough players available. We know Celta are very strong, like to have the ball. Busquets is an important player for me. He gives us equilibrium, he’s important, he doesn’t pick up many injuries. He’s key for us.
Xavi on being dependent on Lewandowski
We need to improve on that facet. We need to take more advantage of set plays, shoot from outside the box. We train this because we think it’s important. All the players needs to try to score, particularly the ones who play in the opposition box. We need to find that final pass and make better decisions. We will improve throughout the season.
Xavi on Raphinha and Dembele
Ousmane sometimes plays on the left, Raphinha can play there as well. Maybe they are more comfortable on the right. The wingers we will manage them according to their minutes, but they give us so much.
Xavi on Ferran Jutgla
I’m very happy for Ferran. I know him very well. I knew he since he played at San Andreu for the youth side and they spoke so well about him. I think it was a good opportunity for him. Here it would have been difficult for him because he would have had Lewandowski ahead of him so I’m happy for Ferran. It’s difficult, having success outside of Barca is easier than having sucess within Barca. He’s making a difference for his team and in the Champions League, which is incredible, and the sky’s the limit. But the difference between the two teams is pretty vast.
Xavi on Raphinha
We just spoke today about it individually. We spoke a while and it went well. It’s always good to speak player to coach, to show them your feelings. He’s good, of course he’s more comfortable out wide but sometimes we need to find the superiority from the inside and it’s difficult to attack that way against closed defences.
Xavi on Balde not starting in UCL
The other day he played half an hour. It depends on the moment and what we think the team needs, it depends on many things. Also the fatigue, there are many factors where we base our decisions.
He’s good, he’s 100%, obviously there’s a lot fo competition. He will play, be important, he trains very well. He is an example for his teammates.