Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez singled out two players for special praise after seeing his team move eight points clear at the top of La Liga by beating Cadiz 2-0 at the Camp Nou.
Goals from Sergi Roberto and Robert Lewandowski secured all three points for the hosts and sets the team up nicely for Thursday’s crunch Europa League play-off second leg at Manchester United.
Xavi reserved special praise for Roberto and Ferran Torres who both impressed on rare starts for Barcelona, as reported by Mundo Deportivo. He explained, “I would highlight Ferran and also Sergi Roberto, two players who are highly criticized from outside but who always count.”
Roberto was the captain for the night in the absence of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The versatile 31-year-old scored the opening goal for Barcelona could start again at Manchester United as Pedri is injured and Gavi is suspended.
Torres may also have played his way into contention. Xavi’s attacking options have been reduced as Ousmane Dembele will miss the game through injury. The Frenchman is yet to return after sustaining a thigh problem.
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Xavi Rips Roberto Criticism
Xavi went on to discuss the criticism that Roberto has received. The 31-year-old has regularly been blasted by supporters in recent years, and Xavi says he can not believe what Roberto has had to contend with.
“The criticism of him is very unfair. Of course I want him to renew, for me he is a guarantee,” he said. “I see him train and how he gives the performance and he is always criticized. And he is from La Masia and more culé than the flag. It’s one of the most unfair situations I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Roberto’s contract at the club expires at the end of the season, but he is expected to stay on for another campaign. The midfielder will sign another one-year deal to continue at the Camp Nou, as reported by Sport.
Praise For Ferran
Torres has also had to put up with disgruntled supporters after struggling to consistently impress since signing for Barcelona from Manchester City in January 2022 for 55 million euros.
Xavi has regularly given the Spain international is backing despite his struggles. The coach has said he has “blind faith” in Torres and has insisted he’s an “example” to the rest of the squad.
After Sunday’s win, Xavi admitted he was happy to see Torres finally showing what he can do on the pitch.
“I am especially happy for Ferran, he always has an attitude of 10/10, he is attentive to the team, attentive to the winger and helps defensively,” he added. “I understand that people focus on goals and assists but the coaches look at other things. In training his level is impressive.”
Torres could well get the nod against Manchester United as he has experience of playing the Red Devils with former club Manchester City. The winger spent two years in the Premier League with the Citizens before joining Barcelona.
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