Xavi talks Pjanic, rotation, and Ansu Fati ahead of the Champions League tie

Xavi faced the press on Tuesday to talk about his team’s Champions League group stage opener against Viktoria Plzen at the Camp Nou.

The Barcelona boss spoke about several of his players, confirmed he would rotate his team and also opened up about his hopes for the Champions League.

Here are the best bits:

Xavi on Viktoria Plzen

We play at home against an opponent who doesn’t have anything to lose. It’s a test, we need to be alert. They are a physical opponent, they know how to counter-attack. They are very quick in transition. It’s the Champions League and we need to start in the best possible way. It’s a difficult group.

Xavi on the group stages

They do things very well, they are a very direct opponent. They are very aware of mistakes that we can make. It’s fundamental for us to start well and pick up the three points at home. It’s vital because then we have two tough away games. We want to put our mark on this Champions League campaign.

Xavi on Pjanic

Pablo Torre will join us tomorrow. We know he can help us. Pjanic has decided to leave to look for more minutes. He’s been a fantastic professional. It doesn’t change anything with Pablo. He could play tomorrow. He’s been training well. I’m very happy with him.

Xavi on rotation

Yes there will be rotations tomorrow. The calendar is very demanding and there’s a lot of fatigue after the game against Sevilla. It was a difficult game, it’s an accumulation of fatigue. I think it’s positive and good that we rotate so more players participate and feel important. We have a deep squad and we need to rotate.

Xavi on the Champions League

I’m excited to compete. It’s the biggest European competition. It was difficult for us last season so we need to appreciate it and give it our all.

Xavi on Bellerin and Alonso missing out

They are two signings who need to get used to how we do things, need to train a bit more, but that’s it. On Saturday they will be in the squad. I think they need a few more training sessions to adapt.

Xavi on Barca’s improvements

They have improved a lot since November. I’ve noticed a lot of improvements in terms of possession, positional games, attacking the spaces, our defensive line has improved, players interchanging positions. I’m very happy with the progress of the team.

Xavi on Barca winning the UCL

We are going to compete and dream of winning of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here I’d stay at home. I want to win titles. I want to win the Champions League, the league. I like to win. I don’t see competing without winning. But to call us favorites? We need to be very humble right now. We haven’t won since 2015 and last year we played the Europa League.

Xavi on if Ansu Fati if ready to start

I spoke to him and he’s ready to play. Yesterday I spoke with him individually. He’s good, he’s strong, mentally and physically, and I want to rotate him more often.

Xavi on Alba and Pique

They could play and if not, then Saturday or next. All the players will play. They have been helping us in a different role, but that can change. I count on the whole squad. They are all important and will get minutes.

Xavi on Pjanic and Kessie

The second is very easy. He will help us. He’s going to play and be important. I’ve no doubt. It’s more a thing of adapting to the system. With Miralem, I like him as a player and a person, but he had a decision in his hands to leave in order to play more and I understand that perfectly. He wants to play more minutes.

Xavi on the change in Dembele

Perhaps a little part has changed but I haven’t seen much because since day one he’s been happy. He’s a key player for us. I wanted him to stay, he can make a difference, and he’s very happy now. Perhaps I’m part of this joy he’s experiencing now, but I’m not the most responsible, it’s him. He’s a player that if he has the capacity but not the mentality it will be difficult for him to be successful. But now this change in mentality, he’ll be successful, he’s very happy within the group.

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