Xavi: Barcelona can learn from Sevilla structure

Clubs

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has said Tuesday’s opponents Sevilla are an example of how a club should be run ahead of his side’s game at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Second-placed Sevilla go into the match with a 10-point lead over Barca in the table and would move to within three points of leaders Real Madrid with a win.

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“It’s another opportunity to take points from a direct rival, but it won’t be easy,” Xavi said in a news conference on Monday.

“We tend to look abroad to clubs like Bayern Munich, but what Sevilla have done in recent years makes them an example for us.

“[Julen] Lopetegui is one of the best coaches, Monchi, in the scouting department, is one of the best in his field.

“Beating Sevilla would be a huge boost, but it will be tough because they’re a great team and they are in good form.”

For Barca, who are seventh, three points would move them into the top four for the first time since the end of August.

“It’s a big chance to move into the Champions League places,” Xavi added. “We’ve got 10 points from the last 15 in LaLiga, so that’s not bad.

“We’re still 16 points behind [leaders Madrid], which is a huge difference, but there is a long way to go and we’re not ruling anything out.”

Barca travel to Sevilla on the back of a 3-2 win over Elche on Saturday, with 17-year-old Gavi starring with a goal and an assist.

Gavi is still on a youth contract at Camp Nou that is due to expire in 2023, which includes a €50 million release clause.

When asked if he fears losing Gavi to another European club, Xavi said: “We have to renew his contract right now.

“If necessary, we will all put in some money. Along with Ansu [Fati], Pedri, [Ronald] Araujo, Abde [Ezzalzouli], Nico [Gonzalez] and others, he must be the base of the club’s future. We can’t lose these players.

“I know the club are working hard on Gavi’s new deal.”

Barca will be missing Ansu, Pedri, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay through injury against Sevilla, while United States defender Sergino Dest remains a doubt.

Dest’s absence from Saturday’s win over Elche fuelled rumours Xavi is open to letting him leave in January, but the coach said it was fitness-related.

“His problem is a physical one,” Xavi said. “We would have used him more. He has had a back injury and now he’s got an adductor problem.

“It’s not a mental issue or a football one, but if he’s not feeling 100%, he can’t play. What’s important is how he feels and he tells us he’s not [fit] to play.”

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