FC Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez was joined by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Galatasaray tomorrow. This is what the player and the manager had to say.
WORDS FROM AUBAMEYANG
On the game…
Galatasaray is playing well, but we know how we have to do it, the pace we have to give to the match to win it. The most important game is tomorrow because we have to win it. Galatasaray defended very well at Camp Nou and we know what we have to do to win now. We’re ready for this game. We know what awaits us and we’re here to win because it’s important for the team
On Dembele’s contract situation
The final decision will be up to Dembele, I hope he continues here, I am happy to play alongside him, we will see what happens.
On how he’s feeling..
It is special to play here, I have felt it and there is a great atmosphere in the Galatasaray field. I know what awaits us tomorrow.
On Dembele’s game
Dembele I see him very well, since I came I saw him training with great desire, he plays well and I had no doubts about that, I’ve known him for years. What do I give him? Smiles.
On how Auba’s adapted
My quick adaptation to the club? I expected it a little bit. I have worked a lot and I wanted to do well from the beginning. I’m happy with what I’m doing. The support from my teammates is making everything easier for me.
On his time at Barca under Xavi
Here at Barça I feel very good as a striker, but at Arsenal I felt very good on the left. Xavi knew what I can do. We have worked hard on pressing intensity and learning to play in small spaces like Barça does.
I’m happy with what I’m doing. When you come to a team like Barça, with so much talent, it’s easier. I think I’ll do what I did at Arsenal, I can maintain this level and I really want to do it. I am happy with my work and with the help of my colleagues, when you come to a team like Barcelona with all these talents, it becomes easy.
WORDS FROM XAVI
About what the team is aiming for this season
Our main objective is to be in the Champions League next season. Winning the Europa League leads us to that goal. We want to show that we can compete in Europe.
About the Spotify deal
I think the agreement with Spotify is very good. I think it’s very positive for the club.
On Mbappé & Haaland at Madrid?
Give an opinion about signings ahead of time. I don’t see much point in it. In football, the team is still more important than individuals. If those individual work for the team, it’s already the best. The team is the main.
On the game..
It’s a final for us, but also for them. It seems to me that we will see a rival similar to the one in the first leg, defending in a low block. We will have to improve the success of the attack.
Busquets is essential for us. I’ve always said it and I stand by it. He brings a lot of things and is a key player for us.
On the Clasico this Sunday
Now we are focused on tomorrow’s game, we don’t think beyond it. There will be time to think about Sunday.
On the game…
Tomorrow is a final, heads or tails. We have to go out with more intensity than in the first leg, which I didn’t particularly like in the first half. The benchmark is the Osasuna game: almost sentences in half an hour because you come out very intense.
What have you taken from different eras coaches you trained under?
There a lot of things I have not changed, but things are different due to the technologies and how things are now. Van Gaal is undervalued at Barça and he did a sensational job. Many times we do things that start from then. He was very obsessive and a great example of what we do.
The team has started scoring, and three clean sheets in recent games. Is this something the team is working on?
There are lot of things we’ve been working on, defensively, working on counter attacks, and a lot things on the pitch, and we will keep working on them.
In the first game, Galatasaray played well defensively, do you have a plan for that?
Yes, we will try and attack in a better way and create opportunities. The goalkeeper was very good as well. We will try our best tomorrow to win.
Galatasaray lost 2-0 before the first game. Is this why Pique and Busi were not in the lineup?
We have to rest our players, and make changes to attack better. Tomorrow is a different match. We did not underestimate the opposition. We knew that it will be a difficult game. Busi played a lot of minutes, and had to be rested.
About the atmosphere in Turkey
If you win you get confidence, if you lose the opposite happens. It is a difficult stadium, the fans push a lot, it is a test of fire for us. It is an important to qualify for the next round.
How do you manage the pressure you have on yourself, and how do you deal with the physical aspect of the Clasico?
I deal with pressure naturally, I am very competitive, I like to win. We did not get a favorable result in the home leg, but we have to be positive. We’ll have to focus on moving to the next round.
We need to keep an eye on the knocks as being tired can provoke injuries, we need to make sure that the players are well rested for the game on Sunday.
If you can only choose a top forward for these demanding matches for pressing…
The press is one of the main things, we can’t have someone who doesn’t know how to press. It will break the strategy. You have to run back 70 metres in pressure. It is important that the players are right for our team, and in the end we’ll win. This is one of the basics, pressing in our game. We don’t bring players who don’t press.
In 2015, Barca won the UCL, now you play in Europa. If you lose tomorrow and the Clasico, what will you do?
It’s a bad situation. We keep moving forward and keep doing what we are doing.
WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE?
Aubameyang shared how he has settled in very easily, against all odds. The fans had mixed opinions about the former Arsenal captain due to the fallout between him and manager Mikel Arteta. He also talked about Dembele, saying that he ‘gives him smiles’ as he knows him since his Dortmund days. The duo got a goal in the game against Osasuna at the weekend.
Aubameyang is very confident and becoming a fan favorite. He was also seen signing shirts of the fans outside his car at the weekend. The Gabon international is very comfortable wearing the Barca shirt, and knows what he needs to do on the pitch. He has shown so far that he is back to being himself after a difficult couple of months in London.
It is very clear that Xavi has a winning mentality. This was the case before the Napoli game as well, and the same situation. The team went to Italy, a difficult stadium, and completely dominated. But Xavi knows that it is a different game, and it will not be easy in front of the fans at the Türk Telekom Arena.
Xavi praised Louis van Gaal, who gave him chance initially in his career as a player. He said that the Dutchman had a lot of elements that are now in the modern game. Xavi is fully focussed on the game tomorrow, and said that it is a final. When asked about the Clasico, he said the game tomorrow is important, and Sunday game will come later.
The team has turned around under the former Barca captain, the team is playing the modern game, and is more confident than ever. The way Xavi has been able to get the best out of Adama Traore who was struggling at Wolves, and also from Frenkie de Jong has been pivotal in the Catalans’ success.