Barcelona concluded their 2022-23 Champions League campaign on Tuesday, November 1 with a 4-2 group-stage win over Viktoria Plzen in the Cezch Republic.
Xavi’s side ran out winners but saw midfielders Franck Kessie and Pablo Torre go off injured in the second half. The Barcelona boss said after the game that Kessie has been hit hard by the injury, as reported by Diario AS.
“Kessié is bad and screwed up because he has hurt his hamstring,” he said. “I think that until the injury he has been fine. He has been good in the air, in getting the ball out… But he has had the bad luck of the injury.”
The summer signing has endured a tough time at Barcelona since signing on a free transfer from AC Milan. Kessie has already spent time on the sidelines and now looks set to miss Barca’s final two La Liga games before the World Cup.
Kessie has only made five starts so far this season for Barcelona, and his agent has been forced to deny speculation that the Ivory Coast international is already looking for a way out of the Camp Nou.
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Pablo Torre Scores First Barcelona Goal
Xavi also spoke about Torre, who also went off in the second half but has avoided injury and simply suffered from fatigue and cramp. The 19-year-old summer signing scored Barca’s fourth of the night with his debut goal for the Catalans.
Torre has also been forced to be patient at Barcelona this season, following his move from Racing, and Xavi praised the teenager after the final whistle.
“Young Pablo played well. For him and the attacking midfielders it was a difficult match they had to attack spaces and that’s not his primary strength,” he added. “He’s got other notable qualities but he fully understood what the match required, scored our fourth and then went off but we feel it’s going to be muscle-cramp and not more.”
Xavi Aiming For Europa League Glory
Barcelona will now head into the Europa League after failing to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. The Catalans will face a play-off to reach the knockout stages, with the draw set to take place on Monday, November 7.
Xavi is already looking forward to the tournament but played down suggestions that Barcelona are now hot favorites to lift the trophy.
“I would say that we are candidates for the Europa League. There is a very nice Europa League left and Barça is a candidate to fight for it and achieve it,” he said.
Barcelona could face a tough test to make it into the knockout stages with the play-offs pitting teams dropping out of the Champions League with clubs that finished second in the Europa League groups.
As things stand, Barca could be drawn against teams such as Manchester United, PSV, or Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin. The Europa League group stage will conclude on Thursday with the final round of games.
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