Xavi: “It’s the Match of the Season, There Are No Favorites”


Barcelona coach Xavi called their Champions League round of 16 second leg clash against Napoli “The most important match of the season.” The first leg in Naples ended 1-1, leaving things finally balanced ahead of Tuesday nights match in Spain. Speaking to the press, Xavi gave an update on his squad and explained why this match is so important to the Catalan side:

“It’s the most important match of this season. We are motivated. We are excited. It’s been four years since we reached the Champions League quarterfinals. We have to compete against a great rival who isn’t in the best moment, but has the foundation of last year’s Serie A victory. I hope it will be a magical night for the Barcelona fans.”

Regarding the objectives of both teams, he said, “I see two similar cases. They have improved, they are more solid and dynamic. We have important losses, very important: Gavi, Pedri, Frenkie, Balde… But we have to compete and show what we have worked on.”

On the pressure he feels, Xavi stated, “I think it’s an opportunity to reach the quarterfinals after four seasons. We have to change this situation, and we want to do it in front of our people. There are injuries, but it’s not an excuse. There is no fear of failure, but rather a desire to show that we can perform at a good level.”

About what he expects from Napoli, Xavi said, “I expect a courageous Napoli, pressing high, wanting the ball… like us. It will be an open match, and I think it will be a spectacle. The three forwards have a high level. They are the reigning champions. It’s a great match: we are facing a great team.”

Regarding the atmosphere in the Barcelona dressing room, he emphasized, “It’s not about me, it’s about the club, the players… I feel the support. We have to be united. I will tell them not to be afraid, it’s an opportunity to be among the top eight in Europe. Without fear. We have to try.”

“I would say there are no favorites. It’s fifty-fifty. The weight of the fans gives us a little more favoritism. We will do our best to reach the quarterfinals. The stadium must be a pressure cooker,” Xavi continued.

Regarding F. Torres’s condition, he mentioned, “There are no setbacks, but the feeling is not that of being one hundred percent. He will be there against Atletico Madrid.”

When asked which Napoli player he would steal, he stated, “Lobotka is the player I like, in terms of construction, he doesn’t lose the ball, and I would like to see him in a team like Barcelona. He makes the difference for Napoli.”


Serie A obsessive.