Barcelona will visit rivals Espanyol tomorrow evening in another important chapter in the reign of Xavi Hernandez. The Blaugrana beat Atletico Madrid 4-2 at the Camp Nou last weekend to jump to fourth place. They will be looking to combine their place in the top four and put pressure on Real Betis.
Barcelona are currently two points adrift of Atletico and two behind Betis, who were helped by a 2-0 home defeat to Villarreal last weekend. The Andalusians will face Levante tomorrow afternoon so that Barcelona go third if Betis loses and wins.
But it will not be easy. The form table identifies Barcelona as the obvious favorite to this one, but it all comes out the window in the derby. Espanyol are currently 13th in the league with three out of five defeats, but Barcelona beat them 1-0 when both teams met at the Camp Nou in a back-to-back match. That game was Xavi’s first in charge of the club.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference on Mundo Deportivo’s comments, Xavi took the time to pay tribute to Gavi, a 17-year-old Andalusian player who has turned into a midfielder this season and Luis Enrique’s La Roja.
“The situations in which he steals balls, many, when he puts pressure on after a loss, are brutal,” he said, using a Spanish expression that indicates something unusual. “He turns very well, he can keep the situation, he can be the third man, he knows when to get inside. When he was only 17 years old his play was amazing. It’s a pleasure to train her. ”