Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has sent out a passionate message to his players before his team’s next match which is a crunch Copa del Rey semi-final clash against bitter rivals Real Madrid.
The Catalan giants head into the match on Thursday, March 2 on the back of consecutive defeats to Manchester United and Almeria and without some key players due to injury.
Xavi has spoken to his players at training on Tuesday, February 28 and told them: “We are at a key moment, we have to recover our passion,” as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have already met twice this season. Los Blancos ran out 3-1 winners in La Liga back in October, while Barcelona beat Carlo Ancelotti’s side by the same scoreline in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in January.
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Xavi Blasts Barca After Almeria Defeat
Xavi was left fuming after Barcelona’s last performance, a 1-0 defeat to Almeria. The match was the first time the Andalusians had ever beaten Barcelona and Xavi saw his team manage just one shot on target in the 90 minutes.
The Barcelona coach blasted his players after the defeat and said it was the team’s weakes performance of the season so far, as reported by ESPN.
“I am really angry. It was the worst game of the season from my point of view, above all in the first half. It was a day to make a statement in LaLiga, and there is no excuse,” he said. “There was no intensity, there was not even a desire to win, and that worries me. We slipped up and we apologise to the fans. If we want to win LaLiga, we have to change chip.”
Victory for Barcelona would have seen the Catalan giants capitalize on Real Madrid’s draw with Atletico to move 10 points clear at the top of the table. However, they remain seven points ahead after 23 games played.
Injuries Piling Up For Barcelona
Barcelona’s trip to the Bernabeu has been made harder by the loss of top scorer Robert Lewandowski to a hamstring injury. The Poland international joins key players Pedri and Ousmane Dembele on the injury list.
The loss of Pedri is particularly problematic for Barcelona. The Catalans have won 84 of 93 points with Pedri in the team under Xavi and just 31 of 54 without the midfielder, according to Opta.
Ansu Fati is also a doubt for the match after sustaining a bruised knee. He missed the trip to Almeria and it’s not clear yet if he will be fit enough to make the squad list for the trip to the capital.
The absences leave Xavi short of options in attack. If Fati is not back in time then Xavi will have only Raphinha and Ferran Torres as fit forwards. However, he could use teenage attacker Angel Alarcon who has been called up to the first-team squad in recent weeks.
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