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I never feel alone – Xavi defiant despite Barcelona blip

SoccerNews in La Liga 15 Dec 2023

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Xavi insists he does not feel “alone” despite the pressure building on the Barcelona coach.

The Blaugrana have suffered back-to-back defeats heading into Saturday evening’s encounter with Valencia.

Xavi’s men sit fourth in the table having been beaten 4-2 at home by La Liga leaders Girona last Sunday, leading to speculation around the former playmaker’s long-term future at Camp Nou.

However, Xavi is confident he has the backing of the club’s leadership and rated the fans’ support for his team as a “perfect 10”.

“I never feel alone. I feel like I have support and strength and I feel that we can have a great season,” he said at his pre-match press conference in quotes reported by the club’s X account.

“The fans are behind the team, they are a perfect 10. They know that we will give everything.

“We have a fantastic relationship, with the president (Joan Laporta), with (sporting director) Deco, with (vice-president) Rafa Yuste… I believe more than ever in the project and in what we are doing.

“The club needs stability. We are a winning project. We are the defending La Liga and Super Cup champions.”

Barca had bounced back from home defeat in the ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid with three wins and a draw from their next four league games before the Girona setback.

A team showing seven changes then also lost 3-2 away to Royal Antwerp on Wednesday night in the Champions League, but with qualification for the last 16 already assured.

Barca go into the match at the Mestalla seven points adrift of Girona, five behind Real and below Atletico Madrid on goal difference.

They remain without long-term injury victim Gavi, who is out with a cruciate ligament tear. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and defender Marcos Alonso, who are both suffering with back injuries, remain out of the squad heading into this weekend.

Valencia have not won any of their last four matches in La Liga, losing three and drawing one, but their striker Fran Perez was in bullish mood ahead of Barca’s visit to the Mestalla.

“We are working hard to hurt Barca and it’s going very well. We’re really looking forward to it,” he told the club’s in-house radio station.

“If we beat Atleti at home 3-0, why can’t we beat Barca at Mestalla? It’s going to be a very competitive game. The game is all about keeping a clean sheet and making the most of the chances we get. We can’t get distracted in any action.

“At Mestalla we are a very difficult team to beat. We have to be calm and compete well and I’m convinced that we’ll have a very good game.

“Our fans are very important and they are our 12th man. We are going to have a great game not only for us, but also for the fans, who deserve it.

“The tickets being practically sold out shows how the fans support us and we must respond with the highest possible level of demand. We must give everything for the club and for our fans.”

Valencia are 11th going into the weekend, with five wins, four draws and seven defeats from their 16 matches so far.

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