On a three-game winning streak, Barcelona will face their next challenge at home against Real Betis, who have proven to be a difficult opponent in recent years.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won two of their opening four games of the season and currently sit in 7th place in the table, a point off the top-four spots.
Barça are currently two points off leaders Real Madrid, and cannot afford to offer them any more runway room. Anything less than three points tomorrow could prove to be detrimental in the long run for the blaugranes.
Ahead of the match, Xavi addressed the media and some pressing questions about the club as part of the pre-game conference.
Speaking about the game, he said, “Betis is a great team, very technical, with high-level footballers. I have always liked watching Pellegrini’s teams and it will be a game with highly contested possession.”
He also confirmed his contract renewal with the club, suggesting the announcement is coming soon, saying, “I am happy and the project is continuing. My contract renewal will be announced in a few days.”
On Gundogan, Pedri, and Araujo’s injuries
Xavi addressed Ilkay Gundogan’s injury against France, where the veteran was substituted off the pitch in tears. Reports coming out later, however, stated that the player is fit and not at risk of missing games.
“Gündogan had the blow on his back. We will see how he is today and we will decide tomorrow, although in principle he should be fit to play tomorrow.”
He also gave an update about Ronald Araujo’s injury, who has only played one game all season so far: “Araujo is also progressing well.”
“All players have an injury prevention plan. We should not focus on Pedri. There are injuries in all teams due to the demanding schedule. It’s inevitable with stress and fatigue,” Xavi said about Pedri.
On Ferran, Yamal, and more
16-year-old Lamine Yamal has taken the world by storm, and has already participated in games for the Barcelona and Spain first-team, scoring on his international debut. However, Xavi has been held under scrutiny, suggesting that he is overusing the youngster.
“Lamine Yamal? You told me three weeks ago that I didn’t dare to put him on, and now you tell me that I use him too much. Whether he starts or comes from the bench, he’s going to be important for us. He has a natural talent to make a difference and there is no problem.”
Meanwhile, another forward in the team who has been in exceptional form is Ferran Torres. The Spaniard has scored two goals in the opening four games of the season, and seems like a player revitalised.
On him, Xavi said, “I told Ferran yesterday that what he did has great value. He changed the situation himself. He is an example for his teammates. He will be important.”
On transfers – Abde, Roque
Barcelona let go of Ez Abde on the last day of the summer transfer window, but have secured a buy-back clause for the Moroccan worth €20 million in the summer of 2023. Xavi spoke on the exit, saying:
“We have a purchase option, Abde isn’t completely gone yet. He always wanted to play as a starter, but I cannot promise him this in light of the existing competitiveness.”
They will, however, be boosted by the presence of Vitor Roque, who is set to arrive from Brazil in the winter transfer window. Xavi assured fans and journalists alike that there is no problem in the move, contrary to reports.
“Deco has told me that Vitor Roque will come in January. We’ll see but in principle there should be no problems with his incorporation. Although I don’t think it’s the time to talk about it either.”