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regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Barcelona ready for 'a major football war' against Paris Saint-Germain, says manager Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona beat PSG 3-2 in the first leg in France last week but Xavi said his side will need to be nearly flawless to reach the semi-finals for the first time in five years

Reuters, AP/PTI Barcelona Published 16.04.24, 07:24 AM
Ilkay Gündogan plays with his son ahead of Barcelona’s practice on Sunday, in a picture posted on X

Ilkay Gündogan plays with his son ahead of Barcelona’s practice on Sunday, in a picture posted on X

Barcelona are ready for a battle against Paris Saint-Germain in the return leg of their Champions League quarter final, manager Xavi Hernandez said on Monday, adding that his players are willing to suffer in order to advance.

Barcelona beat PSG 3-2 in the first leg in France last week but Xavi said his side will need to be nearly flawless to reach the semi-finals for the first time in five years.

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“It’s going to be a major football war,” Xavi told a press conference on Monday.

“We are not a team that speculates, we will want to take the ball away from PSG and win the game. Hopefully we’ll be at our best. They’re going to demand a lot from us.”

The victory in Paris was Barca’s first win in the Champions League knockout stage in four years and left them full of confidence as they reached six consecutive victories in all competitions.

They are unbeaten since losing 5-3 at home to Villarreal in La Liga in January
that led to Xavi announcing he was stepping down as manager at the end of what then looked like a difficult season.

Now, 13 competitive games without a loss later, including a commanding performance in the French capital to end PSG’s 27-game unbeaten run, Tuesday’s challenge seems to have presented itself at the perfect time.

“Happy to be where we are. I think it’s a good moment and I’m excited,” Xavi said.

“We have to control our emotions, our temperament... It’s a game of heads or tails. We want to be in control with the ball, and we want to show the best side and personality of the team.

“We need our fans to be loud because PSG will make us suffer, there’s no doubt about it.”

Haller out

Borussia Dortmund forward Sébastien Haller has been ruled out of the match against Atlético Madrid with a recurrence of his left ankle injury.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said on Monday that Haller “injured his ankle again. He will now have complete rest for a week. There will be a final diagnosis on Saturday to determine the downtime a little more precisely.”

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens also went off with a back problem but Terzic said he “already feels better and we hope he can take part in training with us.”

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