The final matchday of the football calendar before the World Cup is upon us as Barcelona travel to Pamplona to take on Osasuna. The Catalans are currently top of the league standings, with Real Madrid holding a game in hand.
Barcelona also had the Europa League knockout draw today, pitting them alongside Manchester United. Evidently, there was a lot to discuss during Xavi’s press conference today; the quotes for which are brought to you by Barça Universal.
On the United draw: “It’s the most difficult opponent once again. We are looking forward to it. They are a historic side, they have grown a lot since Ten Hag’s arrival, and have great players. It’s the worst draw we could have gotten.”
On Gerard Pique: “Pique is available for tomorrow, we will make a decision later.”
On the Europa League: “Barcelona have never won the Europa League. It’s a challenge, we are going to try and win it.”
On Ronald Araujo: “We are in contact with Uruguay about Araujo and we will decide together. The most important thing is that the player is at 100% and that he recovers well.”
On Memphis and Kounde: “Memphis and Kounde have discomfort, still. But their World Cup is not in danger.”
On Cristiano Ronaldo: “Ronaldo in decline? He seems to me to be a great player, who has marked an era in world football and can still make the difference.”
On players that are not travelling to the WC: “Players who will stay here during the World Cup will have days off.”
“The players will take a leave, we will start training at the end of November, and we will have a month to prepare for their return. It will be pre-season preparations.”
On completing a year as Barcelona manager: “After a year here, I’m doing quite well. I knew I was coming to one of the most demanding clubs in the world in terms of noise levels. Last year, we had to put things in order and this year, the goal is to win titles.”
On facing United or Mourinho: “I love to win, I am a winning person and i want to win with the club, regardless of the opponent.”
On Raphinha: “Raphinha has complete confidence, there are times when things are not what we want, but we have to persist, we believe in him a lot. I’m sure the goals will come.”
On Ousmane Dembele: “Dembele is making the difference in many games. His numbers have improved a lot since we have been here. He’s grown, but lacks consistency. He has to improve on that because with his qualities and talent, he can be the best in his position.”
On leadership now that Pique is leaving: “Everyone has their leadership role in the team. We will miss Pique, but I don’t see any problem. Whenever a captain leaves, the roles will be reorganised.”
On going to Qatar for the WC: “When I was in Qatar, I felt at home. I think it will be a historic World Cup. I will try to go to see the Spain and Qatar national teams.”