Xavi grateful for Ronald Koeman support as ‘angry’ Barcelona seek improvements

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XAVI
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Barcelona coach Xavi has expressed his gratitude for the support of former coach Ronald Koeman as he urges the Blaugrana to turn to Real Mallorca.

Xavi’s side sits third in LaLiga, one point behind second-placed Sevilla – who have played just one game – and 15 behind leaders Real Madrid.

However, Barca have lost three consecutive home games in all competitions for the second time in their history, last doing so under Louis van Gaal between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

The tough race culminated in their exit from the Europa League and placed little doubt on their eligibility for the Champions League, despite being six points ahead of Real Betis in fifth place.

Koeman claimed on Thursday that Xavi deserved more support than he did while at Barca when the Spaniard lifted the Blaugrana from ninth to third place following the Dutchman’s dismissal last October.

While Xavi accepted the support of another coach and expressed his love for Koeman, the 42-year-old urged Barca to improve when they face Mallorca on Sunday.

“I will not change the feelings Ronald has. I was not there and I will not express my opinion,” he told reporters at a press conference before the game on Saturday.

“I have a lot of respect for him and commend him. Everyone should support Barca. I have a lot of respect for Ronald for the work and effort he has put in. Thank you, nothing more.

“We are here and I feel the support of the team and Barcelona in general. It seemed like we were hitting something high, but suddenly no one was losing three times in a row.

“Now we have to see the coach, the players, show our face.”

Barca have never lost four home games in a row in their history, and Xavi has repeated his calls for his team to respond against Mallorca, who have lost their last eight league meetings with Blaugrana.

“It’s time to take a step forward,” he added. “You have to create more team than ever before and express your personality. It’s not because of a bad attitude.

“It is because of the circumstances that have burdened us, we have to improve, it is time to push it forward and bring out the personality, I have a winning team and that is the truth.

“You have to set challenges. Those with the biggest ambitions will enter the Champions League. This is a team designed to win titles. The second is what is needed.

“On Monday we were angry, on Tuesday we were young and on Wednesday we were already working.

“It’s true and you have to be prepared for that. You have to have faith to achieve a small goal.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid will be the champions if they avoid defeat against Espanyol the day before Barca.

“If they are champions we will congratulate them,” he said of Madrid.

“They were better because this is a long race and they usually win. We will congratulate them and next year we will compete better.”

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