Barcelona coach Xavi admits he feels bad about leaving Brazil international Dani Alves out of the club’s squad for the knockout stages of the 2021-22 Europa League.
The boss could only include three of his four new signings on the list and opted to omit the 38-year-old. Xavi told a press conference on Saturday, February 5 why he had chosen Alves over Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“I have a bad feeling of course for the decision because it was a tough situation and we thought that the right full-back position is better covered than the No. 9,” he said. “Of course that’s unfair on Dani because he gives us a lot on and off the pitch.”
Xavi does have other options at right-back. Sergino Dest looks the most likely to man to fill in for Alves, while the coach could also switch to a system using three center-backs.
Barcelona return to action in European competition against Serie A side Napoli on Thursday, February 17 at the Camp Nou. The two sides them meet again a week later in Italy with the winners progressing to the last-16.
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Dani Alves Reacts to Europa League Omission
Alves has already offered his thoughts on being left out of the Barcelona squad. The veteran defender said he wanted to be included but accepts the coach’s decision, as reported by Diario Sport.
“The coach knows what I think. I always try to bring the best I can. We are employees. The club decides. I came to help, to add things, some competition and winning spirit. If helping means I am out (of the list), then that’s fine by me,” he said. “They are parts of life you have to accept. I would have liked to be in, but unfortunately we were four players for three places. I won’t get bad vibes. I will keep trying to help.”
Xavi has named 32 players in his Europa League squad with eight players from Barcelona B joining 24 first-teamers on the roster.
Xavi Talks Europa League
The Europa League is often derided but is Barcelona’s only chance of silverware this season. The coach was asked for his thoughts on the competition and made it clear he wants to lift the trophy.
“It’s a good chance for us to win a trophy and to get a ticket to the next Champions League, he said.” We want to be playing in the Champions League but now we’re in the Europa League and now it’s one of the main objectives. I’ve played in it as a player but didn’t win but now I want to as a coach.”
Yet Barcelona face a tough test progressing to the last 16 against a strong Napoli team. Luciano Spalletti’s side are currently third in Serie A and finished level on points with Spartak Moscow at the top of Europa League Group C.