football

Barcelona chief Joan Laporta increases pressure on Xavi ahead of Bayern Munich tie


Barcelona chief Joan Laporta has upped the pressure on Xavi by confidently claiming his side will progress to the Champions League knockout stages. The Catalan giants could be consigned to the Europa League if they lose to Bayern Munich tonight and Benfica beat Dynamo Kiev. It would be yet another disaster for the La Liga giants, who have endured a problematic season so far.

Barcelona lost their first match under Xavi on Saturday, with Real Betis inflicting a 1-0 defeat on them courtesy of a late goal from Juanmi.

It was another blow for the La Liga giants, who already trail Real Madrid by 16 points at the top of their domestic table.

In the Champions League, Barcelona have also struggled.

The Catalan giants beat Dynamo Kiev home and away but were outplayed by Bayern on matchday one and Benfica in the following round of fixtures.

They’ve picked up just seven points from five matches and, if they slip into the Europa League, it’ll represent a hammer blow.

Now, Laporta has confidently claimed Barcelona will make it through to the knockout stages despite the difficulty of Bayern ahead.

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“There is no fear. We risk everything and that gives respect, but not fear,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the game. I ask the fans to be proud of being Barca, we have a splendid stage ahead of us.

“They know that this requires for a while but at no time did we stop facing all the situations that arise with the will to make Barcelona fans happy.”

Barcelona are looking to win the Champions League for the first time since 2015 this season.

They’ve had issues in the competition since then, infamously suffering exits at the hands of Liverpool, Roma and Bayern in recent years.

Xavi, however, is confident they have what it takes to keep their hopes of glory alive.

“It’s in our own hands and we’ll give it everything we’ve got. After the game, we’ll see,” said the 2010 World Cup winner.

“I don’t see it as a miracle. It’s one game and we can beat any opponent.

“We have to be patient. The process isn’t overnight. We have a tested against an opponent who has been better than us in our last meetings.”

Xavi also insisted he wouldn’t be paying too much attention to Benfica’s clash with Kiev.

“I want to think that it’s more important to rely on ourselves than on others,” he said.

“[The message to my players is] that they forget everything, forget the pressure. That I’m there to help them.

“To dominate the game using the ball, knowing that we face a very tough opponent. We know it’s a difficult task.

“History says we have never won in Munich, but history is there to be broken. I’m looking forward to it.”





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