I Will Leave Barca If I Think I’m Not The Solution – Xavi

File photo: Xavier Hernández Creus, also known as Xavi. Philip FONG / AFP

 

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.

AFP

Xavi Calls On Barca’s Dembele To Score More

File photo: Xavier Hernández Creus, also known as Xavi. Philip FONG / AFP

 

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.

AFP

Barca Suffer First Defeat Under Xavi As Betis Snatch Victory

AFP Photo DOCUMENT REFERENCE000_9TY9M8 SLUGFBL - ESP - LIGA - BARCELONA - BETIS CREATION DATE12/4/2021 CITY/COUNTRYBARCELONA, SPAIN CREDITLLUIS GENE / AFP FILE SIZE/PIXELS/DPI22.56 Mb / 3439 x 2293 / 300 dpi FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-BETIS Barcelona's Spanish defender Gerard Pique leaves the pitch at the end of the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 4, 2021. LLUIS GENE / AFP
Barcelona’s Spanish defender Gerard Pique leaves the pitch at the end of the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 4, 2021. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

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.

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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 Unveiled As Barcelona Coach 

Newly-appointed FC Barcelona’s Spanish coach Xavi Hernandez waves to supporters during his presentation ceremony at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 8, 2021. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Xavi Hernandez was unveiled as Barcelona’s new coach on Monday as thousands of fans welcomed the debt-ridden club’s legendary former midfielder back to Camp Nou.

Xavi walked out to chants of “Xavi, Xavi” before signing his contract on the pitch, alongside his family and Barca president Joan Laporta.

“I don’t want to get too emotional so I will just tell you one thing — we are the best club in the world,” Xavi told the crowd of around 10,000 fans.

“And we will work to the highest standards to have success. We cannot accept defeats or draws, we have to win every game.”

Laporta said: “Today will be a historic day for Barca.”

READ ALSO: Three Talking Points From The Premier League Last Weekend

Newly-appointed FC Barcelona’s Spanish coach Xavi Hernandez (R), flanked by FC Barcelona’s Spanish president Joan Laporta, poses with his jersey during the presentation ceremony at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 8, 2021. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

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.

 

AFP

Messi Set To Equal Xavi’s Record Of 767 Games For Barca

File photo: Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Valladolid FC and FC Barcelona at the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on December 22, 2020. Cesar Manso / AFP

 

Lionel Messi is set to equal Xavi Hernandez’s record of 767 appearances for Barcelona after he was named in the team to play against Huesca on Monday.

Messi was in the starting line-up for the match at Camp Nou where Barca will look to put further pressure on Atletico Madrid in La Liga’s title race.

Xavi spent 17 years at Barcelona before leaving in 2015 and is now the coach of Al-Sadd in Qatar.

READ ALSO: PSG Loss Overshadowed By Thefts At Di Maria, Marquinhos Homes

Messi, meanwhile, has been an ever-present in the Barca team since 2004 and is expected to break Xavi’s record against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

This handout pictured made available by FC Barcelona shows Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi attending a training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi on May 8, 2020. Miguel RUIZ / AFP / FC BARCELONA
This handout pictured made available by FC Barcelona shows Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi attending a training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi on May 8, 2020. Miguel RUIZ / AFP / FC BARCELONA

 

“It could only be Leo”, Xavi told Mundo Deportivo on Monday.

“It is totally fair that the best player in history is the one who has defended Barca’s colours the most times.”

AFP

Xavi Tests Positive For COVID-19

(FILES) A file photo taken on September 16, 2019 shows Al Sadd SC’s Spanish coach Xavi Hernandez reacting during the AFC Champions League quarter-final football match between Saudi’s Al-Nassr and Qatar’s Al-Sadd at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. – Barcelona legend Xavi tested positive for COVID-19 in a statement released by Al Sadd football club on July 25, 2020. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

-AFP

Why Xavi Rejected Barca Coaching Offer

Spain and Barcelona football legend Xavi Hernandez who recently signed with Qatar’s Al-Sadd gestures to his teammates during their Qatar Stars League football match against Lekhwiya in Doha. AFP

 

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.

AFP

Xavi To Miss Catalonia Friendly Over Club Engagements

FILES) In this file photo taken on November 27, 2015 Spain and Barcelona football legend Xavi Hernandez who recently signed with Qatar’s Al-Sadd gestures to his teammates during their Qatar Stars League football match against Lekhwiya in Doha.
Karim JAAFAR / AL-WATAN DOHA / AFP

 

Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez said on Sunday that his Qatari club would not release him to play for Catalonia against Venezuela.

The match in Girona on Monday is politically fraught, with the status of autonomous community Catalonia a subject of ferocious political conflict within Spain.

“I regret to announce that finally I will not be able to be in Montilivi for tomorrow’s Catalonia-Venezuela,” Xavi wrote on Instagram.

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“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.

AFP

Xavi Signs Contract Extension In Qatar

Barcelona football legend Xavi Hernandez                              Karim JAAFAR / AL-WATAN DOHA / AFP

 

Xavi Hernandez could play on until the age of 40 after it was announced on Thursday he has signed a two-year extension to his contract with Qatari club Al Sadd.

The legendary former Barcelona and Spain midfielder will stay with the Doha-based club until the end of the 2020 season, according to a statement released by Al Sadd on social media.

“I am happy to keep on being a part of the Al-Sadd family for two more years,” said Xavi.

“I am delighted to be at the club and with its fans.

“Everyone here is one big family and I am satisfied and thrilled to continue.”

Xavi joined Al Sadd in 2015, originally on a two-year contract, after making more than 700 appearances for the Catalan giants.

He extended that by 12 months but the 38-year-old was widely expected to retire at the end of the Qatari domestic season.

However, he said earlier this month he would continue playing play until the end of this year at least and has now changed his mind again.

Since being in the Gulf he has been named as a global ambassador for the 2022 World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar, and has been widely tipped to coach the host side during the tournament.

World Cup winner Xavi won 133 caps for Spain and was also in a Barcelona side which took eight La Liga titles.

The announcement comes on the same day as former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta officially announced he was moving to play in Japan’s J-League.

AFP

Xavi Named Global Ambassador By 2022 World Cup Organisers

FILE PHOTO: World Cup

 

Former World Cup winner Xavi Hernandez was named as a global ambassador for the 2022 World Cup local organising committee in Qatar on Sunday.

The 38-year-old, who is currently playing for Qatari side Al Sadd, will be an ambassador for the organisation “responsible for delivering the infrastructure” for the World Cup.

“I have seen first-hand what football can achieve in communities in Qatar and across the region,” the former Barcelona midfielder said in a statement.

“Football has the power to unite people, dispel stereotypes and break down social barriers.”

Xavi played for Barca for 17 years from 1998, winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, while claiming the World Cup with Spain in 2010.

AFP

Xavi Open To Being Qatar World Cup 2022 Coach

Xavi Hernandez said he’s open to being Qatar’s coach when it hosts the 2022 World Cup and rebuffed his critics by claiming he is “very proud” to be in Doha.

The Barcelona great, 37, who currently plays in Qatar for Al Sadd, told AFP he is “90 percent” certain to retire at the end of this season and then launch his coaching career.

And the World Cup winner says he wants to coach on the biggest stage.

Asked if that mean being Qatar’s coach in 2022, he replied: “Why not? I think it would be nice to be a coach here for the national team.

“We will see. I need experience, I need staff, I need everything but at least I know the Qatari players, I know the environment here.”

The Spanish 2010 World Cup winner added: “I am here to help them to be better, to compete well at this World Cup.

“I think my aim is to be the head coach.”

Qatar failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, which means that in 2022 they will become the first nation to host football’s biggest tournament without ever playing in a finals since Italy in 1934.

They had three coaches during the qualification period and currently Xavi’s fellow Spaniard Felix Sanchez is in temporary charge.

Xavi — who also said it was his “dream” to coach Barcelona — has been in Qatar since 2015.

He signed a two-year contract, extended by 12 months, which ends in 2018.

Qatar has come under intense scrutiny over corruption and labour abuse allegations since winning the right to host the World Cup.

That criticism has heightened during the ongoing Gulf political crisis, which has seen Qatar isolated by neighbouring countries, and fresh calls for FIFA to take the tournament from Doha.

As Qatar football’s biggest star, Xavi, who is already an ambassador for the 2022 tournament, has also found himself criticised for playing in the emirate.

But Xavi says he is unconcerned.

“People don’t know the country, the work they are doing here,” he added.

“I would invite them to come here and then they can see — but I am very proud to be here.”

AFP

Barcelona Beat Juventus To Win 5th Champions League Title

BarcelonaSpanish 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.