Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says he will walk away from his post if he feels he cannot help the team improve.
The Catalans are close to elimination from the Champions League after a draw with Inter Milan on Wednesday, despite heavy summer expenditure, and have faced criticism this week, ahead of the Clasico on Sunday.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, this is Barca,” Xavi told a press conference on Saturday.
“I will not stop working and trying. The day that I’m not sure (of myself), I will leave. I will not be a problem for Barcelona, the day I see I am not a solution.”
Xavi’s side, La Liga leaders, face champions Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, where they won 4-0 last season.
The coach insisted that it is too early to judge his team after the new arrivals this summer, and believes they are heading in the right direction.
“It’s a vital game for us, and for Madrid too, let’s see who comes out of it as leaders,” said Xavi. “I think (our) project is under construction. The debacle in Europe is sad, but we are on a good path. We are having a splendid season in La Liga.
“We have made good signings, it’s too soon to draw conclusions. We have to keep working, I don’t know any other path towards success.”
Barcelona will have defender Jules Kounde back from injury after Xavi confirmed the French international was training at 100 percent.
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez called on French winger Ousmane Dembele to believe in himself more and consistently help the team to win.
The forward had a disappointing game against Inter Milan as Barcelona fell to a 1-0 defeat in the Champions League on Tuesday.
However the coach, who previously said Dembele had the potential to be the world’s best winger, could become more decisive for the club.
“We are very happy with his professionalism since we arrived, we gave him some love and confidence and he’s given it back,” Xavi told a press conference on Saturday.
“He needs to make the difference in every match, he can do it, and he needs to believe in himself more. To score more, assist more, and in each game he should give us more.
“He’s been making the difference but needs to do it even more so, in every game, in every moment.”
Dembele has become a key player for Barcelona under Xavi and has enjoyed a good season, although struggled with his final ball in Milan.
Barcelona could not break through in Italy and will be on the verge of Champions League elimination in the group stage for a second season running, unless they can beat the Italians at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
“We need to shoot more from outside the box, provoke defenders to step up and leave space in behind, our crossing and decision-making in the final third needs to be better,” added Xavi.
Barcelona host Celta Vigo on Sunday in La Liga, as they aim to hold on to top spot before next weekend’s Clasico.
Frenkie de Jong has returned to the squad after injury but Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Memphis Depay, Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie and Hector Bellerin are still out.
Barcelona suffered their first defeat under Xavi Hernandez on Saturday as a 1-0 loss at home to Real Betis inflicted another blow on their hopes of catching La Liga’s top four.
A surprise defeat at Camp Nou damages Barca’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League, four days before they attempt to avoid crashing out in the group stage of the current one. Barca have to win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday to be sure of going through.
This was hardly ideal preparation as a brilliant Betis counter-attack, finished by Juanmi in the 79th minute, consigned Barca to their fourth league defeat of the season and leaves them a daunting seven points behind the Champions League qualification places.
Betis moved into third to continue their excellent start to the campaign.
Barcelona stay seventh and will be 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid, if Madrid win at Real Sociedad later on Saturday.
Xavi had started with two wins out of two in La Liga but even he admitted the results owed a lot to good fortune, with Espaynol and then Villarreal guilty of squandering several chances.
In between, a goalless draw at home to Benfica in the Champions League exposed Barcelona’s ongoing problems in front of goal and that was evident against Betis, who were relatively untroubled throughout.
Ousmane Dembele, who come on off the bench, posed the greatest threat while the 19-year-old Abde Ezzalzouli missed a golden opportunity to equalise late on, when the ball was cut back to him eight yards out. The youngster blazed over.
Minutes before, Betis showed far more composure to finish off a slick counter-attack.
Sergio Canales broke free down the right but the move appeared to have lost its momentum when Canales pulled back to Guido Rodriguez on the edge of the area.
Instead, he shifted the ball quickly left to the arriving Juanmi, who took one touch before sliding into the corner.
Earlier, Sevilla reduced the gap to Real Madrid to five points by beating Villarreal 1-0, with Lucas Ocampos scoring the winner in the first half.
Victory lifts Sevilla into second place, above Atletico Madrid, who play at home to Mallorca later on Saturday.
Villarreal have ambitions to challenge for the top four but they remain 12th after continuing a miserable run of form away from home. They are yet to win an away game in the league this season.
Ocampos gave Sevilla the lead in the 16th minute after Juan Foyth was dispossessed down the right, allowing Marcos Acuna to swing a cross to the back post, where Ocampos’ header trickled in.
Rafa Mir thought he had added a second goal but was offside and then Sevilla spurned an excellent chance when they had a six against two on the counter-attack but failed to convert.
Villarreal should have made them pay in the second half only for Gerard Moreno to miss a sitter.
Dani Parejo’s chipped ball was played across the box by Pervis Estupinan to the back post where Moreno, three yards out with the net gaping, somehow wafted wide.
Xavi is the first Barca coach to be presented on the pitch in front of fans at the 99,000-capacity stadium, with the routine usually only reserved for the club’s biggest signings.
The return of the 41-year-old as coach, six years after he left Barcelona to play in Qatar, has generated huge excitement and raised hopes the club can begin a return to Europe’s elite.
Barca sit ninth in La Liga, with the club grappling with debts of more than a billion euros. They have not been European champions since 2015.
Xavi’s appointment was confirmed in the early hours of Saturday and he flew out of Doha a few hours later, before watching Barcelona at a distance as they threw away a three-goal lead away at Celta Vigo to draw 3-3.
He then attended in person to watch the club’s youngsters as Barca B beat Sevilla B at the Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday evening.
Xavi’s first training session in charge will be on Tuesday, although the squad is depleted by injuries and absentees away on international duty.
Barcelona’s first game with Xavi in the dug-out will be at home to local rivals Espanyol on November 20.
After playing 767 games for Barcelona, Xavi left to play for Al Sadd in Qatar in 2015 before taking over as the team’s coach four years later.
He is widely considered one of the Barca’s greatest ever players, having won four La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.
Former Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez has tested positive for coronavirus, his Qatari club Al-Sadd said on Saturday, adding he would miss their league restart fixture against Al-Khor.
Xavi, 40, recently quashed rumours that he was preparing to move back to Barcelona and signed on for another season at the helm of the Qatari top-flight side.
“A few days ago, following the Qatar Stars League protocol, I tested positive in the last COVID19 test,” Xavi said in a post on Al-Sadd’s twitter account.
“Fortunately, I’m feeling ok, but I will be isolated until I am given the all clear. When the health services allow it, I will be very eager to return to my daily routine and to work.”
Almost 4 percent of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have had coronavirus, with 108,638 cases reported since the start of the pandemic giving the tiny Gulf state one of the highest per capita total infection rates.
However the Gas-rich country has reported just 164 deaths meaning it has one of the world’s lowest virus death rates and 105,420 people have recovered from COVID-19, according to official statistics.
“Today I won’t be able to join my team on their comeback to the official competition,” added Xavi referring to Al-Sadd’s clash against rivals Al-Khor due to get underway at 1600 GMT Saturday.
It is Al-Sadd’s first outing since the Qatari league was suspended in March to stem the spread of the virus.
Al-Sadd reserves coach David Prats would deputise, he said.
Xavi said it was “too early” for him to coach Barcelona as he confirmed on Thursday that he had received an offer from his former club but would remain at Qatari side Al-Sadd.
World Cup winner Xavi, 39, said Barcelona’s director of football Eric Abidal made him the offer, before settling on Quique Setien to replace Ernesto Valverde as coach.
“I received an offer from Barcelona in the presence of Eric Abidal… but I did not agree to this offer, especially as it is too early for me to coach Barcelona,” he said in a statement issued by Al-Sadd.
“But it will still be my dream to coach the team in the future.
“I love the new Barcelona coach, I love the way he works, and I expect him to succeed with the team.”
Valverde left Barcelona after his sacking on Monday, closing the page on a brutal few days.
Barcelona confirmed Setien’s appointment following a board meeting that lasted more than four hours on Monday.
His contract runs until 2022 although there is a break clause in 2021, to allow for change after the club’s presidential elections.
Valverde is the first coach to be sacked by Barca mid-season since Louis van Gaal in 2003.
Barcelona sit top of La Liga, albeit level on points with Real Madrid, and face Napoli next month in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Xavi came through the Barcelona academy before breaking the record for most appearances for the senior side, winning four Champions League trophies and eight La Liga titles.
He joined Al-Sadd as a player in 2015 before being appointed coach last July.
“My commitments with my club did not allow it. I hope next time I can be there with you. In Qatar you will have the first of your fans cheering our team.”
The game was expected to be the 39-year-old Xavi’s last for Catalonia and the organisers had reportedly planned to honour him at half time.
“The over-riding commitments of his team, the Al Sadd Club of Qatar, in the last stages of the league have made it impossible,” the Catalan Football Federation.
While Xavi’s former Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique is expected to play, several Spanish clubs have refused to release players for a friendly that is not a recognised international.
“I put myself in the shoes of their coaches and I have no problem in understanding,” said coach Gerard Lopez. “They play a lot.”
Venezuela are preparing in Spain for the Copa America. On Friday, they beat Argentina in Madrid.
After the victory, coach Rafael Dudamel offered to resign after accusing Antonio Ecarri, representative in Madrid of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, of using a meeting with the team for political purposes by tweeting photos.
Dudamel said he would lead Venezuela on Monday and then discuss his future with the president of the country’s football federation.
Spanish giants, Barcelona have emerged Champions of Europe after beating Italian greats, Juventus 3-1 in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final on Saturday night.
Goals by Rakitic and Suarez in both halves of the fierce battle seemed to have ensured that Morata’s equalizer would amount to nothing for Juventus before Neymar sealed victory with the final kick of the game.
Rakitic provided Barca with a great start with his side footed goal in the 4th minute benefiting from great enterprising moves by Jordi Alba, Neymar and Iniesta who would claim the assist as the Juve defence was pulled to pieces.
On the 55th minute, Morata, would not miss the chance for an equalizer with a rebound off a well taken shot by Tevez which ter Stegen got down well to parry brilliantly.
Buffon had also gotten down to save brilliantly from a Messi shot, but the ball only broke into the middle for Suarez, who batters a sidefoot into the unguarded net to make it 2-1
Having already won the La Liga and the King’s Cup trophies, Barcelona have now equalled their treble success of 2009.
Before the game, both teams had the chance of completing a domestic and European treble this season, with both clubs having already claimed their respective league titles and main national cup competitions.
Two points separated first and second in La Liga this campaign, with Barca taking the crown from fierce rivals Real Madrid courtesy of a 1-0 win over 2013-14 champions Atletico Madrid in the penultimate game of the season.
They followed this up with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp in the Copa Del Rey final to leave the Catalan club, in the words of defender Gerard Pique, “90 minutes away from perfection”.
Juventus led Serie A from the fourth round of fixtures onward and sealed their fourth straight league title and 31st Scudetto with four games to play before beating Lazio 2-1 after extra time to win the Coppa Italia.
The last meeting in the knockout stage between both teams came in 2003, when Juventus won 3-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals en route to the final, where they lost to Milan.