‘I Believe in Him:’ Xavi Set To Trust Barcelona Forgotten Man


Getty Barcelona coach Xavi speaks at a news conference.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says he believes in out-of-favor defender Clement Lenglet and is willing to trust the Frenchman ahead of his team’s next La Liga fixture against Cadiz on Monday, April 18.

Lenglet is in line for a rare start in central defense with Ronald Araujo suspended for the game, after picking up his fifth booking of the season last time out against Levante, and Gerard Pique currently sidelined with an adductor injury.

Xavi was asked about Lenglet at a pre-match press conference on Sunday, April 17 and insisted he has no doubts about the defender who has slipped down the pecking order at the Camp Nou and made just four La Liga starts in 2021-22.

“I believe in him. I’ve used all of the players we have in the squad. Everyone is training well. Everyone knows the responsibility of playing for Barca,” he said. “He’s an example, how he works, how he trains, he’s another guarantee we have got in defense.”

Lenglet is expected to be named in Barca’s starting XI against Cadiz in central defense alongside Eric Garcia. The Frenchman has suffered previously against Cadiz, giving away a penalty in the final minute from which Alex Fernandez equalized the last time the two sides met at the Camp Nou in February 2021.

The center-back was subjected to abuse from supporters for his mistake after the game and was subsequently spotted crying in his car.

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Xavi Tells Barcelona To Improve

Barcelona head into the game against Cadiz needing to bounce back from the 3-2 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt that sent Xavi’s side crashing out of the Europa League at the quarter-final stage.

The coach said his team must improve and highlighted what we wants to see from his side when they take to the pitch to the Camp Nou against Cadiz.

“There were good moments against Levante and in the first leg against Frankfurt. In general, though, we have lost a lot of balls in the last three games and it has affected us. But we have to keep believing in what we are doing,” he said. “The level has dropped, that’s clear, but it’s a process. A change in playing style requires time, patience, conviction and hard work. We must get back to what we did when we beat Madrid and Napoli and the results will come.”

Barca will be favorites to win but were held to a goalless draw at Cadiz earlier in the 2021-22 campaign. Xavi noted how it will be important for his side to score the first goal in the match.

He added, “We have to improve, we have to concentrate from the start. It’s key to score the first goal, it makes teams open up. The project is just getting started. There are good signs, but it’s clear we need to improve.”

Can Barcelona Win Out?

Barcelona will head into the match in second place in the table and with the title still mathematically possible. Leaders Real Madrid take on Sevilla ahead of Barca’s game and Xavi was asked if he still thinks his team can battle for the title.

“If we don’t win the eight games we have left, no. Before Madrid’s game at Sevilla, we have to focus on ourselves. The first objective is to qualify for the Champions League next season,” he said. “If after that we can compete for LaLiga, perfect. It is possible to win all eight games, but it will be tough. Cadiz are playing for their lives, Real Sociedad want to get into Europe, Rayo still need points to survive… everyone is playing for something.”

Thursday’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt saw Barca’s long unbeaten run under Xavi finally come to an end, although the Catalans will be hoping to maintain their fine form in La Liga and make it 16 games without a loss in the Spanish top flight by beating Cadiz.

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