Xavi puts Barcelona situation into perspective ahead of Champions League dead rubber


The Europa League beckons for Barcelona in the new year, but Xavi maintains a positive outlook for his side.

Barcelona head coach Xavi attempted to put the club’s embarrassing UEFA Champions League elimination into perspective as he insisted the team is on the “right track”.

The Blaugrana will play no part in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive season after picking up just four points from five games.

Before last season, Barca had reached at least the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 19 consecutive campaigns.

Their fate was sealed last Wednesday when Inter beat Viktoria Plzeň to book promotion alongside Group C winners Bayern Munich, who thrashed Barca 3-0 at the Camp Nou later that day.

While this was undoubtedly a major blow given Barca’s significant investment in the squad in the face of financial problems during the transfer window, Xavi feels he is able to offer perspective having seen the club at its worst and best.

“Unfortunately and fortunately, I had the worst period in the club’s history, from 2000 to 2003, and the best from [Frank] Rijkaard’s arrival until my retirement,” he said.

“We have to insist, now is not the time to doubt. We are in a situation we did not expect, we will be out of the Champions League, but we have to believe in the idea, draw the line and believe.

“I am very positive. I still think we are on the right track. The titles will be won in 2023 [not now].

“It didn’t help that we got into a very tough Champions group, but we made a step up this year. The team played very well in Munich.”

“We had the opportunity in our hands but it slipped away due to football errors, unfavorable situations and refereeing decisions.

“We had chances but in Munich we didn’t get the points after a good game and then we could only draw with Inter when we were in control. It was things that depended on us.”

“We were unlucky to be drawn into a very strong group and not up to the task. That’s the reality.

Tuesday’s trip to Viktoria Plzeň has very little to do, Barca has already secured a place in the Europa League.

Xavi is expected to rotate in his squad and has confirmed that Robert Lewandowski is rested with a slight back problem.

But as for those who can play, Xavi is urging them not to get complacent just because the result is essentially irrelevant as they look to maintain their momentum in LaLiga ahead of the World Cup.

Asked what Barca have to play for on Tuesday, Xavi said: “To win, to play well, to offer good feelings.

“For prestige and professionalism, we have to go all out and finish this competition well. It’s very important to go into the last two league games before the World Cup with a good feeling.”

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