Xavi says Barcelona cannot give up hope as he refuses to bite at Mourinho jibe


Barcelona are on the verge of an early Champions League exit, but head coach Xavi is keeping the faith ahead of facing Bayern Munich.

Xavi is refusing to give up hope of reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, even if he accepts his side face an almighty challenge to advance to the last 16.

Barca have faced elimination from the competition at the group stage for back-to-back seasons heading into Wednesday’s home game against Bayern Munich.

Xavi’s side will not be able to progress if they lose or if Inter beat bottom side Viktoria Plzeň, while they will also be relegated if both games are drawn.

The Catalan giants will be aware of their fate ahead of kick-off at the Camp Nou as Inter host Pilsen earlier, but Xavi insists the result will not affect his team selection.

“We will all watch the game together in the dressing room,” Xavi said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. “No matter what happens, we want to show that we can compete.

“I decided on the lineup already on Monday, apart from any injuries. All this regardless of what happens in the Inter game.”

Barca’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Inter two weeks ago essentially means they need wins over Bayern and Pilsen while needing favor elsewhere.

They have lost nine of their 12 Champions League games against Bayern’s other opponents, who have already advanced to the last 16, including the last five in a row.

In fact, only Bayern alone have lost more matches against a single opponent in Champions League history against Real Madrid (10).

“It’s not like we need a miracle because we have a bit of hope,” Xavi said. “We know it’s not just up to us, so it’s an uncomfortable situation.

“But we know that regardless of what happens in Milan, we have an important game ahead of us. We have to beat Bayern to show that we can compete at this level.”

“Even if there is a little hope, we must not lose it. We have done our homework. This competition is cruel to us, but it is the reality we face.”

Jose Mourinho last week labeled clubs relegated to the Europa League in the next round as a result of finishing third in their Champions League group as “failed sharks”.

However, when asked for his reaction to Roma head coach Mourinho’s remarks, Xavi said: “There is nothing to answer. If we have to play in that competition, we will compete.”

“[The Europa League] is not something we are thinking about yet, but if we are going to compete in this competition, we will go out and fight like lions to win it.”

Barcelona have lost their last two home games against German opponents in Europe – against Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt – but have never lost three in a row before.

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