Barcelona were heading for disaster until I made decision to quit – Xavi

By Sports Desk April 12, 2024

Xavi is convinced Barcelona’s season would have been a “disaster” had he not announced his decision to leave at the end of it.

The 44-year-old revealed after a 5-3 home defeat by Villarreal in January that he would walk away from the club after two and a half years in charge following a difficult spell.

He said at the time his decision would free up his players, and they will head into Saturday’s LaLiga clash with lowly Cadiz on a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions – the last of them an impressive 3-2 Champions League quarter-final, first-leg victory at Paris St Germain.

Xavi told a press conference: “With the decision made, I was sure we would be like this. If not, it would have been a disaster, and I told the president so.

“I looked and looked around the club. If I hadn’t decided, we wouldn’t be competing by now.”

Asked if he might reconsider his decision in the circumstances, Xavi said: “I’ve told you that at every press conference. Nothing has changed.”

Barca head into the game still revelling in the glow of their midweek fightback in Paris, which saw them recover from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 at the Parc des Princes and secure a priceless lead to take back to Catalonia.

They have won their last five in all competitions, although their hopes of closing an eight-point gap to leaders Real Madrid – their opponents at the Bernabeu Stadium next Sunday – appear to be receding by the week.

Xavi said: “Next week there is a Clasico that, if we win tomorrow, could leave us five points behind. If we lose tomorrow, the league is over.”

Indeed, Barca’s focus could lie as much over their shoulder, with third-placed Girona only two points worse off and due to host them in a potentially pivotal clash on May 4.

In the circumstances, they can afford no slip-ups this weekend against a side fighting for their lives inside the relegation zone and three points adrift of safety.

Cadiz have rallied in recent weeks, collecting eight of their 25 points to date from the last five games – including a famous 2-0 home win over top-four side Atletico Madrid on March 9 – and they boast a 2-1 home victory and a 1-0 success at the Nou Camp, as well as two draws, in seven meetings with the Spanish aristocrats since returning to LaLiga in 2020.

Xavi said: “They have only lost one game in the last five, they have beaten Atletico at home… a lot is at stake. Life is going for them football-wise in every way, they are playing for the season.”

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    Sacked Barcelona manager Xavi said he leaves the club disappointed after feeling his work was not appreciated enough as they finished the season with a 2-1 win at Sevilla on Sunday.

    Xavi, 44, who joined Bara on a three-year deal when Dutchman Ronald Koeman left in 2021, led the Catalan giants to their 27th league title last season.

    He compiled 90 wins, 23 draws and 29 defeats in 142 games in charge but was fired on Friday.

    "I have the feeling that everything I have done in these two and a half years has caused an earthquake. I have been targeted many times in many situations," Xavi said.

    "I think that the work has not been sufficiently appreciated. This year we haven't been up to the task because of details. We had four key games in which we couldn't finish the good work we had done," he added.

    LaLiga runners-up Barcelona, who finished 10 poins behind Real Madrid, have endured a frustrating season, losing to Real in the Spanish Super Cup final, knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals and eliminated from the Champions League by Paris St Germain also in the last eight.

    Xavi decided to step down in January but agreed to return in April after talks with president Joan Laporta, who later changed his mind and sacked him after a season without silverware.

    "It is not for me to say the reasons or the motives. I think it is up to the president to say them. I had no choice but to accept it. It doesn't matter if I agree with the arguments.

    "I'm not leaving with a sense of relief because we wanted to continue. These are decisions made by the club. We understood and respected that, but we thought it wasn't over," he added.

    Xavi pointed out that while he did not agree with his departure, he accepted that the club was bigger, adding that the next coach's job would not be easy.

    "He should know that he has a tough situation because Barca is a challenging club but on top of that it is in an adverse economic situation. It will not be an easy task," he said.

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    La Blaugrana came out all guns blazing from the start and took the lead in the 15th minute through Robert Lewandowski who scored from close range after latching onto Joao Cancelo's cross.

    Sevilla levelled with Youssef En-Nesyri's strike in the 31st minute and went close again but failed to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Barca got the winner on the hour through Fermin Lopez.

    Barca were already guaranteed second place going into Xavi's final game. The Spaniard was sacked on Friday, after a disappointing campaign in which they lost the Spanish Supercopa final to Real Madrid and were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-final.

    Data Debrief: A legend departs

    Xavi never lost any of his six games as a manager against Sevilla in LaLiga (W5 D1), making them just the third opponent that he faced six times without defeat (also W5 D1 against Real Mallorca and Osasuna).

    Fermin got the all-important goal to ensure Xavi's tenure ended on a high note. He has scored seven goals in LaLiga in 2024, a record surpassed by only one other Spanish player in Europe's top five leagues this year: Iago Aspas (eight). 

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    Champions Inter end their Serie A season with a 2-2 draw against Verona thanks to a Marko Arnautovic double.

    The Austrian opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a neat finish, but Inter were soon pegged back as Tijjani Noslin equalised six minutes later.

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    Simone Perilli proved the hero for Verona in the end, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep his side level.

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    Simone Inzaghi has now earned 250 points as a coach in Serie A with Inter, an achievement only Roberto Mancini has reached so far with the Nerazzurri in the three-points-per-win era (436). This draw takes him up to the landmark after 77 wins and 19 draws (18 losses).

    After winning the Scudetto with five games to go, Inzaghi has led Inter to 94 points in Serie A, with only three teams ever earning more points in a single campaign in the competition in the three-points-per-win era: Inter in 2006-07 (97) and Juventus in 2013-14 (102) and 2017-18 (95).

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