HomeChampions LeagueXavi says announcing exit 'freed' Barcelona ahead of decisive PSG clash

Xavi says announcing exit ‘freed’ Barcelona ahead of decisive PSG clash


Xavi believes his decision to leave Barcelona has “freed” everyone at the club, as the Blaugrana bid to book their Champions League semi-final place against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Xavi announced his intention to leave Barca at the end of the season in January, following a chastening 4-3 defeat to Villarreal which left their hopes of retaining their domestic title in tatters.

Since then, however, the Blaugrana have gone 13 games without defeat in all competitions (10 wins, three draws), winning their last six including last week’s quarter-final first leg in France.

Raphinha scored twice either side of quickfire PSG goals from Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha, then Andreas Christensen headed in the decisive goal in a 3-2 win for the Catalan giants.

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Ahead of Tuesday’s second leg at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Xavi was asked whether his decision to announce his departure was a turning point in their campaign.

“Without a doubt,” the former midfielder said. “For me and for the players, also for the press. Everyone has been freed.

“Everyone has had more of a feeling of belonging, towards the club and the team. It has gone phenomenally well.

“But you care a lot about me, three months ago it wasn’t like that. The important thing is that the team reaches the semi-finals tomorrow, not that I advance anywhere.”

Barcelona are close to reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the post-Lionel Messi era, their most recent appearance in the last four seeing them surrender a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Liverpool in 2018-19.

Remarking on the positive atmosphere surrounding the club, Xavi said: “It is a very important moment for Barcelona fans, there is excitement again.

“You notice it in the street, in the president. Today he wanted to be with the team to give us support and confidence. He told me that he wanted to stay and play in the rondos!

“He is excited, like all Culers. We have recovered the enthusiasm that has been missing during the season.”

Barca last lifted the Champions League trophy to cap Xavi’s final game as a player with the club in 2015, with Luis Enrique masterminding a 3-1 final win over Juventus in Berlin.

Ahead of Luis Enrique’s return to Catalonia with PSG, Xavi said he is one of the three coaches to have had the greatest impact on his own career, alongside Pep Guardiola and former Spain boss Luis Aragones.

“Perhaps alongside Aragones and Pep, he is one of the three coaches who have marked me the most,” Xavi said of his former coach.

“When I think about what I have to do, I remember a lot I learned from them. They have marked me. That is my reality.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.


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