Barcelona only halfway back to best in world, Xavi says

Xavi Hernández mentioned Barcelona are solely midway again to their easiest as they edge in the direction of the Champions League knockout levels for the primary time since 2021.

Barça will e book their place within the spherical of 16 of Europe’s premier competitors on Tuesday in the event that they keep away from defeat in opposition to Shakhtar Donetsk in Hamburg.

It might signify the following step of their progress beneath Xavi, who this week celebrates two years in command of the Catalan membership, after profitable LaLiga and the Spanish Tremendous Cup final season.

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“I’d say the abstract to this point is that we have now been ticking off the goals we laid out, each the teaching employees and the membership,” Xavi mentioned in a information convention when requested about his tenure to this point.

“We arrived at a tough second [in 2021-22] and managed to save lots of the season. The second season was very constructive by way of outcomes, with two trophies, and at many moments by way of performances, too.

“I feel we’re midway down the trail to the place wish to be. Now we have to get better the excellence in our performances. I feel we’re doing a great job, however we’re solely midway there.

“We wish to get Barça again to their easiest once more, above all in Europe, but additionally dominate the home competitions.”

Barça final gained the Champions League in 2015, when Xavi was nonetheless taking part in for the membership, however have progressively declined since then and had been knocked out within the group levels in every of the final two seasons.

They’ve began properly within the competitors this 12 months, although, profitable their opening three video games in opposition to Antwerp, Porto and Shakhtar.

“Now we have executed our homework to this point, with 9 factors from 9, and now we have now likelihood to tick off our first goal, which is reaching the final 16,” Xavi added. “Tuesday represents an important alternative to try this.”

Regardless of an upturn in fortunes on the continent, Xavi has confronted criticism this month after Barça adopted up their first defeat of the season, at dwelling to Actual Madrid final weekend, with a below-par show in opposition to Actual Sociedad on Saturday.

Barça beat La Actual 1-0, however Xavi labelled his staff’s first half show “unacceptable,” though he feels the media have been too harsh since.

“I feel so,” he mentioned when requested if the criticism had been exaggerated. “However it’s all the time going to occur at Barcelona. All we will do is analyse issues internally and be sincere, which we have now executed.

“It is not the target [to play like we did against La Real]. The opposite day we earned three factors that possibly we did not deserve, however in El Clásico we deserved extra and did not get it.

“We performed properly in opposition to Madrid and we have now to return to being that recognisable staff: dominating with the ball, urgent excessive, profitable the ball again rapidly and taking part in with depth.

“We wish to impose our id on video games. We wish to play properly and win large, that will be excellent, nevertheless it will not occur each recreation.”

Xavi hopes the return of injured gamers will even give Barça a lift within the coming weeks. Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Koundé have all returned to motion within the final week, as has Pedri, who performed half-hour at Actual Sociedad.

“When Pedri has the ball, issues occur and all the things improves,” Xavi mentioned. “He’s pleased taking part in soccer…and we have now to attempt to assist him have the utmost period of time taking part in soccer.

“Pedri has massively loved himself with us, he has scored extra objectives than ever, however clearly he is not loved himself whereas he is been injured — I have never loved seeing him injured, both.”

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