‘Annoyed’ Xavi blasts ‘really bad week’ for Barca
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez was annoyed with his team’s lack of determination as their slim LaLiga title hopes were shattered on Monday with a 1-0 defeat to Cadiz at Camp Nou.
Lucas Perez scored the only goal of the game after 48 minutes to silence the home crowd and leave Barca 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who came from behind to win at Sevilla on Sunday, with just seven games left to play.
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Xavi said he was angry with the nature of the Cadiz loss and his players are “pissed off” following a second defeat at Camp Nou in the space of four days after being knocked out of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
“We are angry, the players first, because we missed a golden chance to separate ourselves from those in the fight for the Champions League places and also to [keep] fighting for LaLiga, which we’ve practically said goodbye to now,” Xavi conceded in a news conference.
“I am annoyed and we have to be self-critical, myself first, as the coach. We’re playing to be in the Champions League, that’s why I am so angry. There was a lack of desire and determination. It’s been a really bad week and we have to turn things around as soon as possible.
“The players are pissed off. I’ve tried to encourage them after the match, but we must compete better. We have to look at what we have done wrong in defence and attack. On Thursday we have another final against Real Sociedad.”
Monday’s defeat ended Barca’s run of seven straight wins in LaLiga and 15 unbeaten in the Spanish top flight. It was just their second loss in the league under Xavi, who has steered the team from ninth to second since replacing Ronald Koeman earlier this season.
“We’re not in a bad situation,” the coach added. “Things have improved since we took over in November, but we have to keep improving.
“We have to look ourselves in the eye and have more desire because we cannot lose at home to Cadiz. This is Barca and we have to do more. We have improved, but we wanted to do more and fight for trophies.”
The top four teams in Spain qualify for the Champions League and Barca are currently second, level on 60 points with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, albeit with a game in hand. Below them, Real Betis have 57 points and Real Sociedad 55.
“To qualify for the Champions League next season, which is our main objective, we have to improve and play with more impetus,” Xavi said. “We have seven finals left and we have to grit our teeth because there is a lot at stake.
“It is not an attitude [problem], the players want it. It is a question of faith and of giving everything to take advantage of an opening. Cadiz defended as if it was their last-ever game for the whole match and we have to equal that.”
Monday’s game was played in a strange atmosphere at Camp Nou. After around 30,000 Frankfurt fans gained entry to the home end on Thursday, prompting the club to change their ticket policy, some fans decided to stay away in protest.
The singing section behind one of the goals was left empty, with the supporters’ group in charge of the section explaining ahead of the match they were boycotting because they felt “humiliated” at feeling like an away side in their own stadium against the German side.
Other fans, meanwhile, protested outside Camp Nou before the game. Around 100 supporters gathered to chant against president Joan Laporta and call for his resignation.