Xavi talks About 4 Players after Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona
After back-to-back defeats against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cadiz, Barcelona bounced back to winning ways as they secured a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad away from home in La Liga.
A first-half header from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved to be enough for Barça in a game in which the team suffered due to a series of injuries and also had to rely on Marc-Andre ter Stegen to preserve their narrow lead.
The hard-fought victory sees the Blaugrana reclaim the second spot in the standings from Atletico Madrid. However, they remain tied on points with the Rojiblancos, albeit with a game in hand.
Manager Xavi Hernandez spoke after the game and praised the effort of his players during a gruelling schedule, saying: “We have a lot of pressure, we have played a lot of games in the last 3 weeks, and we have to applaud the team for the effort.”
The 42-year-old reminded the job is still not done and the team are yet to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. “We have a month left to qualify for the Champions League,” he said.
“We have to secure second place and we have to continue the fight. We are suffering a lot from fatigue, discomfort… The players make a great effort to achieve the goal of getting into the Champions League,” he later added.
Xavi on Barcelona’s performance
Speaking of the hard-earned win at the Reale Arena, Xavi said: “This is a golden victory. It is worth 6 points. This is the match in which I have suffered the most, apart from the one at Villarreal. Real Sociedad deserved more today.”
However, the manager was not entirely pleased with the style of play that he saw from the team on the night, as he said: “This is not the correct football we have to play.”
“We have to be self critical with our game. We won, which is the important part, but we are not happy. They had the ball more than us. They are a very tough opponent, and our fatigue was noticeable in the second half. But mentally, it’s an important victory.”
Further delving into the performance on the night, Xavi added: “We won, yes. We are satisfied with the three points that were very important, yes. But we can’t be satisfied with the game.
We have not had long possession in the opposite field and that is what we want and what we work for, it is a matter of decision making.”
“In the first half we had very good minutes. I came into the half-time break happy… But in the second half we suffered a lot. The positive point of view is that we competed very well. We have to praise the effort, although we have to improve.”
Fatigue and injuries
Xavi also touched upon the fatigue that his players have been experiencing, stating that the change in style of play he has brought in is not something that the squad is used to, which is having an impact on the fitness.
“We have changed the style of play. I try to have the players press high for 90 minutes. Barça have not done that in many years. You have to understand that some players are suffering from severe fatigue, especially in defence. They are not used to the intensity.”
Five months ago, there was a different game system. I want to press and get the ball back sooner. The effort is spectacular, the attitude is commendable… We are at the beginning of a project and it takes patience,” he later added.
Praise for players
Xavi lauded his captain Sergio Busquets after the game, saying: “We have to thank Busquets for his performances and commitment to the shirt.”
The Barcelona manager also hailed veteran defender Gerard Pique, who was whistled at on the night, while also being taken off injured.
“Piqué has made a spectacular effort. Alves has also made a great effort. Piqué is a natural leader. He gives us security. At 35, he is still a vital footballer,” he said.
There were words of praise for Frenkie de Jong, too, as Xavi called him a ‘complete’ footballer. “Frenkie de Jong is a very complete player, he has endured very well and is very important for the team,” the Barcelona boss added.
Xavi also reserved huge praise for goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who produced a vital save to deny Alexander Sorloth an equaliser late in the game.
“Ter Stegen is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Today he gave us the three points. He’s a leader, he dominates with his feet, and he gives us a lot of security in goal,” he said.
“Ter Stegen has given us points again today like he already did vs Mallorca or Levante. When we have not been at our best, ter Stegen has given us points,” the 42-year-old added.
The Barcelona boss also had some kind words for his Real Sociedad counterpart, Imanol Alguacil, as he said: “Imanol is a great coach, I identify a lot with his way of training, they have done very well.”
Following the narrow victory over La Real, Barcelona will now turn their attention toward the home game against Rayo Vallecano later this Sunday. With the top-four race still on, another victory will be of paramount importance.