Referee who sent off Lewandowski not going to lower Barcelona's mood – Xavi

By Sports Desk January 24, 2023

Xavi insists there is no problem with referee Gil Manzano taking charge of Barcelona's Copa del Rey quarter-final with Real Sociedad.

Manzano was the official who showed Robert Lewandowski a red card when Barca faced Osasuna in LaLiga in November, before including mention of a gesture the Polish striker made when leaving the pitch in his report, which landed Lewandowski a three-match ban.

Speaking ahead of the Blaugrana's home game against La Real, Xavi was relaxed about involving his top scorer with Manzano in the middle.

"There is no problem. Let it go unnoticed," he told reporters on Tuesday. "We hope it will be a pleasant match. Robert is a professional who will be aware of the game, which we can control.

"I always tell [the players] to forget about the referee. It's a situation that we can't control. This is not going to lower our mood."

Following their 1-0 league win against Getafe on Sunday, Barca have still conceded just six goals in their 17 LaLiga outings, and Xavi paid tribute to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his role in their airtight backline.

"Marc is at a spectacular level. At the best moment," he said. "He reminds me of Ter Stegen from his first year. He gives us a lot and makes a difference to us.

"We give importance to the defensive line. We work on it and it bears fruit in the league in this case."

With a week left of the January transfer window, Xavi seemed to rule out an exit for Franck Kessie, who has been linked with a loan move away from Camp Nou.

The former Milan midfielder has made just two starts in LaLiga this season, but impressed in Barca's previous Copa del Rey clash against Cueta, recording a goal and two assists.

"Kessie, at no time did I consider leaving," his boss said. "He gives us many alternatives in our game."

On general transfer market intentions, Xavi added: "I predicted a calm market. I'm happy with the team and there's nothing new, although I haven't ruled anything out."

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