Sant Joan Despí, Barcelona, Jan 6 (EFE).- Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández, speaking on the eve of his side’s Copa del Rey last-32 opener at Segunda Division side Barbastro, insisted that his “objective” in the competition is “to reach the final and win it.”
“Last year we just missed out in the semi-finals. This year, our objective in the Copa del Rey is to reach the final and win it. We have to tell the players it is a very important title,” the Egara coach said on Saturday.
Speaking from the press room at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, Xavi warned that Barbastro would be difficult to beat: “These are games where we have very little to win and a lot to lose. We are strong favorites simply because of the category of the two teams. It’s always complicated, as recent precedents have shown.”
“We have to play with all five senses and go to Barbastro knowing they have the game of their lives ahead of them. It won’t be easy, a complicated pitch, second balls, rejections. They are used to direct football. Last year was difficult for us to beat Intercity and we went to extra time,” he said.
The Barcelona coach admitted that he is “always worried” about the state of the pitch, but insisted that this Sunday he is “more worried about the team’s health,” because “tomorrow is a day to find no excuses” and “to match the aggressiveness of Barbastro,” a team whose “character,” “faith” and “courage” are being highlighted.
“The most important thing tomorrow is to respect our opponents. If we think it’s going to be easy, we’ll be making the first mistake. They have already eliminated Almería. The atmosphere will be great and one mistake could eliminate us,” he added.
The Catalan coach also revealed that he will not be able to count on Lamine Yamal, who is serving a two-match suspension for the Copa del Rey, but confirmed that Iñigo Martínez “will be in the squad and will get minutes.” “We have missed his character and leadership,” he said about the center-back.
Xavi explained that he will announce the list of call-ups on Sunday morning because he is “waiting for Alejandro Balde,” who was unable to train on Saturday afternoon due to illness, but who he hopes “will be ready tomorrow.”
The Barcelona coach explained that Vitor Roque “needs rhythm” and “will have minutes” in Barbastro, although he declined to say whether he would start. “It’s an ideal match for players who play fewer minutes, but it’s not the right time to test them,” he warned.
In terms of marking, Xavi admitted that at the moment Barça “can’t bring anyone in because of fair play,” although “with Gavi’s injury, it would be good to have a reinforcement in midfield,” and also expressed his wish that the club could extend the contract of captain Sergi Roberto.
“For me, he is an exemplary player. He can play in many positions and is a guarantee. Very few things need to be explained to him. He knows the commitment that comes with being at this club. He is often criticized, but he always gives his best,” he said.
Finally, Xavi explained that João Cancelo “is not ruled out for the Supercopa de España” and that “if everything goes well, he will travel with the group. EFE