Xavi on the cup duel with Real Sociedad: “I visualize a great game”
With the duel against Real Sociedad, the Copa del Rey takes on another dimension. Barça is facing “a great team”, in the words of Xavi. In addition to being a First Division team, it is third in the League and comes to the Camp Nou with a streak of seven consecutive victories; two of them in the Cup, of course. The tie is aired in a single match as well and the field factor smiles at the Catalans.
Xavi made a brief appeal for the fans to come to the stadium, perhaps unnecessary in view of the usual magnificent influx that the Camp Nou registers. The coach’s claim, added to the interest in enjoying the environment that protects and encourages his players, also affected the quality of the rival.
“I visualize a great match”, commented Xavi, since “the good moment” of form coincides with “the great moment of form” of Real Sociedad. Perhaps the nuance resides in the fact that Barça, of those seven games, has drawn two (Espanyol and Betis) and that the victory over Getafe left a disappointing aftertaste.
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The unknown under the sticks
Xavi did not want to advance if he will keep Iñaki Peña under the sticks. He has defended the goal in the two previous qualifiers (Intercity and Ceuta) or he will line up Ter Stegen as it is the first rival of Primera. Last year Neto played against Linares and against Athletic, in San Mamés, and he already turned to the German goalkeeper. Xavi, who announced in Ceuta that Ansu Fati would start against Getafe, preferred to ruminate on the decision for a while longer. Neither, he affirmed, did he keep awake in training by mixing starters and substitutes.
In the absence of checking the change in the goal, there will be changes in other lines. For example, come back Robert Lewandowski to the axis of attack. But in the Cup he runs into, capriciously chosen, with Jesus Gil Manzano, the referee who sent him off at Osasuna-Barça prior to the World Cup and for whom he is serving a three-game ban.
The female Barça-Real
“We will receive the referee well, as always”, assured Xavi, who stressed that he always asks his footballers not to pay attention to the judge on duty. Lewandowski, the coach thinks, will only be aware of the game, and not of Gil Manzano, although he thinks he is a stiff and arrogant referee, according to the meaning that the footballer wanted to give to the gestures he made after being sent off and by those who added two games of sanction to the one he had due to the accumulation of yellow cards.
Xavi passed over the referee and also the sad delivery of medals to women’s Barça in the final of the Women’s Super Cup against Real Sociedad. An unfortunate ceremony because it did not exist: nobody from the federation participated, and the soccer players had to pick them up from a table.
“As the week has gone, I don’t get into any more ‘scrub’, ask the Federation”, Xavi replied (referring to his first statements about Dani Alves, rectified the following day), that he accepted as “our mistake” that the Competition Committee had eliminated the women’s Barça from the Cup due to improper alignment.
“When Gavi goes to the national team, he is an example of grit and courage and when he plays for Barça he goes too far… It’s normal. And if we win, he likes it less”
Xavi Hernandez / Barca Coach
The double yardstick
On the other hand, he did not put aside the current of opinion that has been activated from Madrid against Gavi and his alleged harshness. Laughingly, Xavi listened knowing that the origin of this tendency comes from the same place as “el villarato” and “el doping” for which the dominance of Barça de Guardiola over Madrid was called into question.
“When he goes to the national team he is an example of grit and courage and when he plays for Barça he doesn’t like it so much and he goes too far… It’s normal. And if we win we like it less”, he said smiling when he saw the double standard of measure that he already knew in his time. Xavi thinks that he receives more fouls than he commits, even if they are not whistled, and he sent a message to Gavi himself: “Let him be calm, not let up and give him the same passion even more.”
Source of data and images: elperiodico