Xavi has ‘blind faith’ in Barcelona amid dip in form
Porto head to the Estadi de Montjuic on Tuesday night level on points with Barca at the top of Group G.
Barcelona manager Xavi insists he has full faith in his team and coaching staff as they look to produce “one of those magical nights” to secure a place in the Champions League knockout stages.
Porto head to the Estadi de Montjuic on Tuesday night level on points with Barca at the top of Group H.
After missing the opportunity to book a safe passage into the last 16 when beaten 1-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk before the international break, Xavi’s side returned to domestic action with a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano – where Florian Lejeune’s late own goal rescued a point.
Following on from defeat in El Clasico, the pressure continues to mount on Xavi and his team, who now sit fourth in LaLiga.
Xavi, though, maintains there is no sense of a crisis in the camp.
“We have to keep working to get our game back, that is Barca,” Xavi said. “It is pressure, but for me nothing has changed. We have to plan games well to compete as best we can.
“I have blind faith in my team and my coaching staff. We are a unit and for that reason I think things will work out.”
Xavi told a press conference: “We are going into the game really motivated, in front of our own fans and let’s hope it is a magical night.
“It is an important test for us. We have to be self-critical and say lately we have not played how we have wanted to, but we are on the right path.
“It is a great opportunity for it to be a turning. We have to change our mentality and be a competitive beast. We have to go after the game from the off.”
Barcelona defender Joao Cancelo is confident the players have what it take to rally round and produce the required display against Porto, having battled to a 1-0 win when they met at the Estadio do Dragao in October.
“We know how important this game is for us, as a team and as a club,” Cancelo said. “We could have qualified against Shakhtar.
“It has been a difficult month. We have a very young team, but with a lot of quality.
“So let’s go out there and try to improve the situation.”
Barcelona will again check on goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who missed the draw against Rayo Vallecano with a back problem.
Porto come into Tuesday night’s game having beaten third tier Montalegre 4-0 in the Portuguese Cup last Friday night.
Veteran defender Pepe continues to be assessed with a thigh problem which ruled him out of Portugal’s squad for the final two Euro 2024 qualifiers and also the domestic cup fixture.