Xavi targets second place and titles next season
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Barcelona cruised to a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Friday (AEST) and enter Monday’s home game (AEST) with Rayo Vallecano 15 points behind league leaders Real Madrid with just 18 points to play.
The Catalan giants’ win in the Basque Country, secured through a first-half header from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, kept them six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis as Xavi tries to lead his side qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
Xavi, however, agrees that improvements will be needed next season, acknowledging that while second place is the best Barcelona can hope for this term, ‘only victory’ matters at Camp Nou.
“We play a lot, [qualification for] the Champions League and second place [are our targets]”, he said before the clash of Rayo. “The league Xavi targets second spot and titles next season is very difficult.
“We’re down a bit in terms of play compared to a few weeks ago. If we recover we’ll be closer to the results. We need to finish as high as possible, which is realistically second place.
“Since November in the league we have been fighting with Madrid. Next year we have to fight to win titles, here it is only worth winning.
“Since November we’ve been one or two points behind Madrid, but they’re up there on their own merits and we too have gone from ninth to second. [since Xavi replaced former boss Ronald Koeman].”
After suffering back-to-back defeats at home to Eintracht Frankfurt and Cadiz, Barcelona are looking to avoid losing three straight games at the Camp Nou for the second time in their history when they host Vallecano, having done so previously under Louis van Gal in 1998.
However, Xavi has undoubtedly had a positive impact since replacing Koeman at the helm, with the January arrivals of Ferran Torres and Aubameyang, LaLiga’s top scorer in 2022 with nine goals, bolstering Barca’s hopes of finishing second. .
Rumors have linked several big names, including Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, with summer moves to Camp Nou, but Xavi says the need for further additions must continue to be balanced with the club’s finances.
“We are planning for next year, but we depend on the club’s economy,” he added. “Let’s see what we can do, and people have to come out. You have to do good planning and the idea is to have two competitive players per position.
“We have to start planning but what concerns us the most is day to day, staying as high as possible, but let’s see what economic situation we are in.”
Meanwhile, Xavi has revealed Gerard Pique, who grabbed headlines after leaked audio messages highlighted his involvement in the Supercopa de Espana’s move to Saudi Arabia, is a doubt for Monday’s clash (AEST) after playing through injury on Friday (AEST).
“We’re dealing with this as best we can,” Xavi said of his former teammate’s injury.
“He had discomfort for two or three months, but he endured 80 minutes [against Sociedad] spectacularly. We’ll see tomorrow, he couldn’t train today.”