Xavi challenges Barcelona to secure Champions League qualification in style

By Sports Desk November 22, 2021

Xavi has challenged his Barcelona side to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 in style when they face Benfica on Tuesday.

Benfica will be unable to catch Barca if the Catalan giants secure all three points in their penultimate Group E game at Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana managed a 1-0 derby win over Espanyol in Xavi's first game in charge on Saturday after the club great replaced Ronald Koeman as head coach.

Former Spain star Xavi wants Barca to put on a show against a Benfica side that beat them 3-0 in September and could move into second place behind Bayern Munich with another victory.

Xavi said in a press conference on Monday: "I envision a victory tomorrow. Why should I think otherwise? I prepare for that, so that [the players] are doing well and see that it is an opportunity to get into the second round.

"I am positive, and it seems an opportunity to me. I envision winning, scoring goals. No one is going to take away that hope. I would like a great team game, of course, but we are not here to give anything away.

"The most important thing is how. The objective is to win. Winning in any way will be welcome, but it is [about] how things are done, too."

Xavi has taken on a rebuilding job at the cash-strapped club following Koeman's departure, but the 41-year-old has high expectations.

"I am very happy," he said: "I feel proud and privileged. I think they are the best in the world, but they must prove it. We have to aim for excellence.

"Regardless of the system, the approach is the same. I try to give the team a winning mentality, personality."

Xavi revealed Ousmane Dembele could return from a hamstring injury, but Barca will not take any risks with the France forward.

Sergio Busquets, Nico Gonzalez and Oscar Mingueza were substituted in the win over Espanyol, but Xavi says all three should be fit to face Benfica.

He said: "The players we had to substitute on Saturday – Mingueza, Busquets and Nico – are fine. We'll see this evening and tomorrow, but I don't see any reason why they can't play on Tuesday.

"Regarding those with injuries – Dembele, Sergi Roberto, and [Sergino] Dest – it depends on how they feel. We don't want players getting injured."

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