Xavi hails Barcelona’s ‘winning mentality’ after last-gasp victory over Levante

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XAVI
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Xavi acknowledged Barcelona did not play well in their pulsating 3-2 win over Levante on Sunday but he believes their “winning mentality” dragged them over the line.

Levante went ahead with a Jose Luis Morales penalty in the 52nd minute and were due to double their place four minutes later, however, Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved Roger Marti’s strike from 12 yards out.

Barcelona led 2-1 within seven minutes of this missed thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang et Pedri, but Leve came out on top seven minutes early as Gonzalo Melero scored the third penalty.

The Blaugrana closed out LaLiga’s seventh consecutive win in a row, however, when Luuk de Jong met Jordi Alba’s cross with a thrashing head.

Barca have scored more points by losing 16 points than any other team in LaLiga this season, with Xavi saying resilience is what made the difference again on Sunday.

“It is true that we did not play a good game but we are competing and we have players who have made a difference like Ter Stegen and Luuk, who are top-class players,” the Barca manager told the media.

“I am satisfied that we are competing well, in the end, it is a matter of winning.

“We have a sense of victory and, for me, the game made me uncomfortable because the game was tough. Levante is a team that pushes you up. It’s three points of gold, which is important to us.”

Barcelona have scored six points with De Jong’s goal in LaLiga this season, with Xavi emphasizing that the Dutchman is more than just a minor player in the club.

“Luuk’s strategy is huge,” he added. “He wouldn’t say he’s a supportive actor. I’m happy because he’s a role model for the people. That’s why we have this kind of actor.”

Barca have yet to receive a penalty in LaLiga this season before visiting the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, with their last goal scored in April 2021 against Getafe.

It was the first time Barca had conceded three penalties in a LaLiga game since the 2005-06 season, but Xavi refused to criticize officials or his players.

Asked if the peanuts were caused by poor concentration around him, he replied: “I do not know.

“According to my position, everything happened very quickly. Yes, we have given three fines. That is true.”

Barca will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday following a 1-1 draw last week, before hosting Cadiz in LaLiga the following Monday.

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