Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Xavi: Barcelona´s first trophy without Messi a platform for further success

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Jan 2023

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Xavi is confident Barcelona’s talented new generation can enjoy a trophy-laden period after landing their first silverware in the post-Lionel Messi era.

The Catalan giants defeated fierce rivals Real Madrid 3-1 at King Fahd International Stadium in a one-sided Supercopa de Espana final in Riyadh on Sunday.

Barcelona, who required penalties to defeat Real Betis in the semi-finals, have now won the domestic cup competition a record-extending 14 times, twice more than Madrid.

However, it arguably marked the start of a new dawn as it was the first trophy Xavi has lifted in his 14 months as head coach, and a first for Barca since Messi left in August 2021.

With the likes of Gavi and Pedri shining in Saudi Arabia, Xavi is hopeful it is the first of many major honours heading to Camp Nou in the coming years.

“We have a really good generation of players and you can see the hunger they have for trophies,” Xavi said at his post-match press conference.

“I hope this will be a point of inflection, but this doesn’t stop. On Thursday we have the Copa del Rey, next weekend LaLiga.

“I’m happy for the players. They’ve received a lot of criticism, unfair in many cases, and they were liberated today.

“It’s a massive morale boost and we can work with more peace of mind. It’s also important for the fans.

“This club has seen everything in recent years: financial problems, the departure of Leo [Messi] was big. I hope this will be the first trophy of many.”

Teenage attacking midfielder Gavi opened the scoring for Barca before setting up Robert Lewandowski for the second late in the first half.

The Spain international also laid one on a plate for Pedri in the second half against the reigning European and LaLiga champions, who pulled one back through Karim Benzema.

Not only did Gavi impress in a creative and attacking sense, he also won a game-high 10 duels and was fouled more times (four) than any other player on the field.

“He is a kid that excites everyone,” Xavi said of Pedri, who is the youngest player to score in El Clasico (18 years 163 days) since Ansu Fati in October 2020 (17y 359d).

“When you see him compete like that…the heart, soul and character that he plays with are contagious for the rest of the team.

“He’s a born leader – it all comes naturally to him, and all at the age of 18. He is spectacular. I don’t get tired of praising him. He has no ceiling, so don’t slow him down.”

Barca also lead Madrid by three points at the top of LaLiga, are through to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey and remain in Europa League contention.

Xavi added: “This performance makes the players believe in what we are doing. But we cannot stop here.”

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