‘They’re going to demand a lot’: Barça’s Xavi braced for PSG second leg

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

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

“It’s going to be a major football war,” Xavi said 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 Barça’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 the 5-3 defeat 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.

Thirteen 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, proud to be where we are,” Xavi said. “I think it’s a good moment and I’m excited. We feel it already. 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, and we have to be a team to beat them. All of us, together.”

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Xavi’s PSG counterpart, Luis Enrique, expressed confidence that his team would prevail. “We are firmly convinced that we will turn the score around,” said the Spaniard, who coached Barça to the treble in 2015. “The first match was hard-fought by both teams but the result did not reflect what we deserved. The 3-2 scoreline means we have to go for the game.”

Source: theguardian.com

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