Xavi talks Lamine, Ferran, Lewandowski, Roque, Cubarsi and Gundogan ahead of Barcelona vs Las Palmas

After a two-week hiatus due to the international break, Barcelona return to La Liga on Saturday evening when they host Las Palmas at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in Montjuic.

THE Blaugrana coming into the match after a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid before the break. And they will be eager to build on that ahead of the huge UEFA Champions League quarter-final against PSG on April 10.

At the same time, Barcelona will also want to put pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who only play on Sunday evening, with a victory over Las Palmas closing the gap between the two teams to five points.

Xavi talks about Las Palmas clash

Speaking to the media ahead of the match against Garcia Pimienta’s side, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández initially expressed relief that no players were injured during his national team trip.

“The players all came back well, fortunately” he said.

Commenting on the challenge Las Palmas will present on Saturday, Xavi said: “Las Palmas don’t waste the ball, they have very technically gifted players, the DNA of Barça, we have to take the ball away from them. They come with little to lose, it can’t be easy for us.

As for whether it will be a dangerous match for his team, the 44-year-old said: “I told them to forget the national teams to continue this positive dynamic. It’s a very important match to continue fighting for the championship title. We need fans.

Regarding the transition from national team football to club football for players, Xavi said: “I fear that the team will come back from the national team and adapt to club mode.

“We will focus on La Liga, we believe we can fight for it and it is vital to put pressure on Real Madrid.”

Team and player news

The Barcelona coach also confirmed that Marc-André ter Stegen is fit and available after a fear of injury in training while excluding Andreas Christensen from the tie.

“Everyone is fine and available, except Christensen. Marc was just scared, he’s fine. he said.

Xavi then spoke about Lamine Yamal’s performance for Spain against Brazil this week, which earned him a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeusaying:

“I see him very calm, he digests everything very well, he is a mature person, responsible and aware that he must continue to work. I see it with more humility than ever. He is a footballer who marks an era and I hope we can always appreciate him at this level.

Speaking about the 16-year-old’s maturity at such a young age, Xavi added: “We did a good job physically. Mentally, he’s a happy, playful guy who has fun and is happy.

“The team and the group accepted it perfectly. I don’t see any problem, everything is positive.

Xavi praised Lamine Yamal’s maturity. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

The coach also reserved praise for Robert Lewandowski, who returned after leading Poland in qualification for UEFA Euro 2024.

“He’s a natural leader, he works hard, he wants to improve, he’s a great player for us and he’s in great shape. I told him that the other day (at Atlético) was one of his best games at Barça. It is vital to our interests,” Xavi said.

Ilkay Gundogan has been one of Barcelona’s best players this season, despite only joining the club last summer. And the former Man City captain earned his manager’s praise, as Xavi said:

“Gundogan is having an excellent season. The numbers are there, but everything he gives us is invaluable. Everything he brings to us, his personality and his experience…. He is a totally differential and fundamental player for the team.

Asked if the midfielder will rest tomorrow given his workload with Germany, the coach replied: “Tomorrow is not the ideal day to rest the players, he will most likely participate in the match.”

Confirming that Gundogan and Lewandowski will be involved tomorrow, Xavi added: “I spoke to them yesterday and today, they are both fine and ready. Robert has logged a lot of minutes, but he is ready to compete tomorrow.

Xavi also confirmed that Ferran Torres and Marcos Alonso are fit and ready to return, saying: “Yes, he is [Ferran’s] GOOD. Two games with the youth team and they played well, as did Marcos Alonso. I’m happy for him.

“Ferran can play in all five attacking positions and has played in all of them. He has versatility, he is strong, he is fast, he has a goal. He will continue to give us much. » he then added what the attacker brings to the table.

The 44-year-old hailed Yamal and Pau Cubarsi as the future of Barcelona and Spain at the time, but they now face the challenge of performing and maintaining their level on the biggest stage.

“Let them maintain the level. Barça is the top step, as well as the Spanish national team. The challenge is to stay in elite football for many years, they have all the conditions.

“They have everything, we have two players who can mark an era in the club, even in world football,” he said.

Amid speculation that Vitor Roque could start against Las Palmas On Saturday, Xavi praised the youngster, saying:

“This week he trained on the wing, inside, as a ‘9’. He is doing very well, he has a great capacity to adapt and the most important thing is that every time he is on the pitch, he has always contributed something.

“It’s Vitor, he can bring things out for the group and the team.”

Xavi is happy with Vitor Roque. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Xavi also highlighted that Roque and Lewandowski work well together, saying: “I think they both get along really well.

“Vitor’s minutes were almost always played with Robert. Vitor always plays in space and Vitor takes advantage of it and vice versa. They get along very well in the locker room.

On the possibility of Mika Faye getting minutes with the first team, Xavi said: “He has already played a few friendly matches with us, he is a competent player, he is aggressive, he is fast. Good level, he will be able to help us one day.

On the importance of Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, he added: “When things are bad, we miss those who are not there. When things are good, those who weren’t involved are bad….

“We missed Frenkie and Pedri even though we had good games. They are vital. »

During the international break, the PSG coach Luis Enrique has named seven Barcelona players who could start at the French club.

And Xavi was asked to choose PSG stars who could start at the Catalan club, to which he replied:

“It’s difficult, they would have competition, but a lot of competition. They are two great teams, at a very similar level. We could say the same thing that Luis Enrique said about us.

On his future

Over the past few days there has been a lot of talk around Xavi’s future, with reports suggesting that Barcelona president Joan Laporta will do everything to convince him to stay.

But the manager insisted his mind was made up on the matter: “I already told them that I was very grateful to the staff, personally to me, to the president, to Deco. I don’t think anything changes, I think what’s best for the club. Nothing changes.”

Earlier this week it also emerged that Xavi had sued two journalists on the spread of false allegations. Confirming the same, the Barcelona head coach said:

“Yes, this has never happened to me before. I understand the criticism, but to a certain extent. I will not tolerate lying and making things up. These are big lies and it’s time to say enough is enough.”

Source: SPORT

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