Barca’s Xavi: Back-to-back defeats worrying


Xavi Hernandez has said he is worried by Barcelona‘s plight after back-to-back defeats to Real Betis and Bayern Munich revealed the size of the task facing him at Camp Nou.

Barca will play in the Europa League in the new year for the first time in 17 years after Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Bayern saw them knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages.

– Marsden: Barca’s loss shows just how far Xavi has to go
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Meanwhile, they go into Sunday’s game at Osasuna seventh in LaLiga, six points off a top-four spot.

“I am worried, of course, but also focused on the job,” Barca coach Xavi said in a news conference on Saturday. “We have to try and lift the team emotionally because they are disheartened.

“We’ve improved in some respects, but we weren’t as good against Bayern, who we must accept are a better team than us. We have to work hard to get Barca back where they deserve to be, competing with teams like Bayern.

“We have to hit the reset button and pick the players up. There’s a feeling that losing is instilled here now and that cannot be the case. We must demand more dedication and more professionalism.

“It’s a psychological issue but also a football one. There were moments against Bayern when we didn’t understand what to do, where the free man was or where the space was.”

Xavi, who replaced previous coach Ronald Koeman in November, was unbeaten in his first three games in charge but, after the midweek defeat in Germany, he said changes were needed to the squad if Barca are to qualify for the Champions League next season.

On Thursday, he met with president Joan Laporta and director of football Mateu Alemany to discuss plans for the January transfer window.

“We always have to improve the team and January is an opportunity,” Xavi added. “We must be alert in the market. There’s a lot of communication [within the club] and [Thursday’s] meeting was very productive.

“I was very clear on what I want and feel we need. We have financial problems and salary limits [to adhere to], but we have to work hard to find solutions to improve the team and be more competitive.”

President Laporta said on Friday the club are doing everything they can to free up funds to be able to add to the squad next month.

Sources have told ESPN that Barca hope to move on several first-team players in order to add up to two new attackers to the team.

Xavi said Barca have their “hands and feet tied” financially, which is forcing them to explore several low-cost options for January.

ESPN have previously revealed that they have sounded out moves for Manchester City duo Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling, Chelsea forwards Hakimi Ziyech and Timo Werner and Manchester United‘s Edinson Cavani, who is open to joining if Barca are prepared to offer an 18-month deal.

Sources have told ESPN there are other names on the table, too, with any deals dependent on the players’ clubs being prepared to let them leave mid-season, potentially on loan at first.

Barca’s squad will be pushed to the limit at Osasuna on Sunday. Jordi Alba and Memphis Depay both picked up hamstring injuries in midweek, taking the number of players out injured to seven.

Ansu Fati, Pedri, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite are also still missing, which could open the door for Luuk de Jong and B team winger Ferran Jutgla to play in Pamplona.

Barca have won just six of their 15 league games this season, leaving them seventh in the table, just two points ahead of Osasuna, who are 11th but without a win in six in LaLiga.

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