Xavi hopes winning Super Cup can help Barcelona ‘click’

By Sports Desk January 10, 2024

Barcelona boss Xavi hopes retaining the Spanish Super Cup can help his side get their season back on track.

LaLiga champions Barca face 2022-23 Copa del Rey runners-up Osasuna in the semi-final of the competition on Thursday evening in Riyadh.

The Catalan giants travelled to Saudi Arabia sitting third in the league, seven points adrift of both leaders Real Madrid and second-placed Girona.

Xavi, who guided Barca to a 3-1 win over fierce rivals Real in the final of last year’s Supercopa de Espana, told a press conference: “We want to find our game again and keep it going.

“We need to play a complete game against a solid side, who have a great coach (Jagoba Arrasate) and who can generate all kinds of different scenarios.

“The click we need to win might come from winning the Super Cup, it certainly helped us last season.

“Hopefully we win this title and it helps us get back on track.”

Barcelona’s two league defeats this term have come against title rivals Real and Girona.

They dropped seven points in four games played between late November and mid December but recovered to register successive victories before the trip to the Middle East.

Barca defender Ronald Araujo echoed his manager’s comments.

“We hope (the Super Cup) marks a turning point,” said the Uruguay international. “It’s a title and is very important for the team and the club.

“We have a great team. We aren’t quite clinical enough in both areas. But we have top quality players to turn this situation around.”

Xavi has selected a 25-man squad for the Super Cup.

Defenders Joao Cancelo and Inigo Martinez and midfielder Pedri travelled, despite not being fully fit.

Real face city rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening in the other semi-final.

Related items

  • Brilliant Joao Felix finish secures all three points for Barcelona at Cadiz Brilliant Joao Felix finish secures all three points for Barcelona at Cadiz

    Joao Felix’s overhead kick sealed Barcelona a 1-0 win at lowly Cadiz and lifted his side back to within eight points of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.

    The Portugal forward converted with a bicycle kick following a first-half corner and with the help of two crucial saves from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barca extended their winning run in all competitions to six matches.

    Barca, who edged the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final 3-2 against Paris St Germain in midweek, are now unbeaten in 13 before next weekend’s El Clasico at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

    Cadiz had boosted their survival hopes by winning two of their previous three in LaLiga and they had their chances, but they remain three points from safety.

    Felix’s strike lit-up a first half of few clear-cut chances, in which Cadiz went close to taking a 22nd-minute lead when Javi Hernandez’s drilled angled effort forced Ter Stegen into a sharp near-post save.

    But Barca edged in front in the 37th minute with their first real effort on goal following a corner.

    Sergi Roberto headed the ball on and Joao Felix swivelled to send a bicycle kick inside Cadiz goalkeeper Conan Ledesma’s right-hand post for his sixth league goal of the season.

    Barca should have extended their lead shortly before half-time when the ball broke to Fermin Lopez on the right edge of the box, but his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked on the line by Cadiz defender Victor Chust.

    Cadiz thought they had made an ideal start to the second period as Juanmi turned home Iza Carcelen’s low ball into the box, but the effort was ruled out as the striker was clearly offside.

    Chust then headed narrowly wide for the home side, whose appeals for a penalty soon after when the ball appeared to hit Barca defender Pau Cubarsi on the arm were waved away, with the incident not reviewed by VAR.

    Felix went close to doubling Barca’s lead through his first-time effort from Ferran Torres’ cross as the action flowed.

    Barca were indebted to Ter Stegen with 10 minutes remaining as the German goalkeeper’s flying save from Diadie Samassekou’s thumping long-range shot preserved their slender lead.

    Following Real’s 1-0 win at Mallorca earlier on Saturday, Barca closed the gap back to eight points ahead of next Sunday’s showdown between LaLiga’s top two.

  • Kieron Edwards to lead new TTFA administration Kieron Edwards to lead new TTFA administration

    Kieron Edwards has been elected new President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

    Edwards, leading Team Progressive, defeated Colin Wharfe and his Transformation team at the Elective Congress 38-19 on Saturday morning at the Home of Football in Couva.

    The new administration will be the first self-governed TTFA in more than four years. This as William Wallace's administration was removed months after he was elected in November 2019, as FIFA intervened and installed its Normalisation Committee in March 2020, citing financial concerns.

    In keeping with the amended TTFA constitution, members were only asked to vote for a president. Edwards’ entire slate will serve alongside him.

    “Our slate [did] the work and left it in the hand of the membership, and they made the decision,” said Edwards.

    Edwards pointed out that his team will meet on Monday to hit the ground running to move football forward in the twin island republic. His administration comprises Colin Murray, Osmond Downer, and Jameson Rigues as the three vice-presidents, while Alicia Austin, Inspector Andrew Boodhoo, Allan Logan, Ryan Nunes, and Shelton Williams are the ordinary members.

    Looking ahead, Edwards revealed that his administration will review the positions of all TTFA staff including that of general secretary Amiel Mohammed, who was hired by the Robert Hadad -chaired Normalisation Committee.

    “He is the general secretary currently and I will work with him until further notice,” said Edwards.

    “Coaches that are under contract, we will honour those contracts and we will work with them. It is not a situation of moving this one (or that one), it is about giving support and enhancing what we do to ensure that we qualify for tournaments, and we do well in tournaments. That is the objective of the next executive going forward," he added.

    He was gracious too to outgoing Normalisation Committee, which included Nigel Romano and Trevor Nicholas Gomez, as well as members of Wharfe’s slate.

    “It is one TTFA and we will work together with all members and your voice will be heard. It is about inclusion; the Normalisation Committee played a crucial role, and we need to acknowledge the service they did for Trinidad and Tobago," Edwards noted.

    Meanwhile, Wharfe promised to continue doing what he can for football in Trinidad and Tobago.

    “We at Team Transformation accept the result and will continue to work for football in any way that we think possible. I will continue to do my job (as TTPFL CEO) and the new executive will make determinations in terms of what tomorrow would look like,” he said.

  • Coventry’s play-off hopes all but over after Birmingham loss – Mark Robins Coventry’s play-off hopes all but over after Birmingham loss – Mark Robins

    Coventry manager Mark Robins wrote off his side’s Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes after their 3-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Birmingham.

    An own goal by Bobby Thomas in the 12th minute and strikes from Ivan Sunjic and Jay Stansfield condemned the visitors to a third loss in four games.

    Coupled with Norwich’s 1-0 win at Preston, it left the Sky Blues in eighth place, eight points adrift of the top six with four games left.

    They have an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United next weekend and next play in the Championship on April 24 when they host Hull.

    “We had to pick points up in three out of the four games we have lost and you can’t do that if you are realistically challenging, so it’s massively disappointing,” said Robins.

    “We have given ourselves a mountain to climb. We could be 12 points adrift (of the top six) by the time we next play (in the league) and Norwich are too good.

    “We didn’t start at all. Initially we had a couple of shots dragged wide, but they were first to the ball in every challenge. Every first contact they seemed to win.

    “It looked like a lethargic performance and people made poor choices and it cost us three goals.

    “They took the lead from an own goal where we didn’t get close enough to the attacker (Keshi Anderson), then for the second one, (goalkeeper) Brad Collins was unsighted.

    “For the third goal we got dragged all over the place because we weren’t talking and that smacks of fatigue.”

    The victory was Birmingham’s biggest win since October – and only their second in 11 games – and it moved them out of the relegation zone after Bristol City denied Huddersfield victory at the death.

    Blues led when Anderson’s cross hit Thomas and deflected in at the near post.

    Sunjic doubled the hosts’ lead with a rasping low drive that caught Collins flat-footed after a corner and Stansfield made it 3-0 when he clipped the ball past Collins following a superb diagonal run behind the defence which was spotted by Tyler Roberts on the left.

    The closest Coventry came to scoring came in the 20th minute when Haji Wright’s lob hit the bar after keeper John Ruddy headed away a clearance.

    Birmingham interim manager Gary Rowett challenged his side to repeat the performance for the next three games to avoid relegation.

    “That was a much better performance and it had a lot more of what we expect and, lo and behold, you get your rewards,” he said.

    “You might not find yourself solid defensively, but you find yourself scoring and creating chances.

    “Some of the senior lads held the others to account in midweek (after a 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff) and everyone has taken that on board, which is what should happen. I thought we showed it.

    “Now we’ve got to replicate that in the last three games.”

    Rowett also praised the positive impact of the 26,811 crowd.

    “It’s been no coincidence we’ve had five full houses this season and won all five games,” he added.

    “If that doesn’t show the power of our fan base, nothing will. They were brilliant – the atmosphere was incredible.

    “It was nice to reward that loyalty with a performance that had a similar edge.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.