Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has explained why he opted to take off Frenkie de Jong after just 45 minutes of his team’s La Liga clash with Valencia at the Camp Nou on Sunday, March 5.
Xavi was already without key players Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Gavi and Robert Lewandowski for the game, due to injuries and suspension, and then hooked De Jong at the break.
There did not appear to be any sign of injury but Xavi said the Dutchman was struggling physically in his post-match press conference, as reported by Toni Juanmarti of Relevo.
“Frenkie had a hamstring problem. He already ended up very fatigued at the Bernabéu,” he said. “It could get worse and we wanted to be cautious.”
Xavi sent on Franck Kessie in the Dutchman’s place and saw his team run out 1-0 winners thanks to Raphinha’s headed goal. The win sees Barca bounce back from a shock defeat to Almeria last time out in La Liga.
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Xavi Talks Barcelona Injuries
Barcelona now have a week to rest before their next La Liga match, against Athletic Club at San Mames on Sunday, March 12. Xavi is relieved to have some respite as his players are feeling the strain, sa reported by ESPN.
“I am happy with the effort levels. Everyone ran hard. But there is also a lot to improve,” he explained. “We had some big absentees in attack. We’ve had some really physical games, there is tiredness, injuries. We have to be self critical, but there’s also a lot of fatigue, also mentally, so this free midweek will do is good, but there is a lot to improve.”
Defender Andreas Christensen also appeared to be struggling physically late on. The Dane was only just back in the team after missing the midweek win over Real Madrid due to an ankle problem.
Araujo Set For Suspension
Xavi will also have to deal with yet another absentee next time out after losing center-back Ronald Araujo to suspension. The defender was handed his marching orders for pulling back Hugo Duro when he was the last man.
The red card will bring a one-match ban, meaning Araujo will have to sit out the trip to San Mames but will be available to face Real Madrid in the Clasico at the Camp Nou afterwards.
Xavi felt Araujo could have few complaints about his red card, as reported by Sport. “It’s clear, we have to be honest,” he said. “It’s a shame, it was our ball, controlled, we didn’t clear it well and that’s what happened. Nothing to say.”
The Barcelona boss will, however, be able to welcome teenage midfielder Gavi back from suspension now. The midfielder was banned against Valencia due to yellow card accumulation and forced to watch from the stands.
Xavi will also be on the touchline against Athletic Club after serving a one-match ban against Valencia. The manager had to watch Sunday’s match from a box, with his assistant Oscar Hernandez in the dugout against Los Che.
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