Barcelona Manager Xavi Hernandez has set the bar relatively for his side in their upcoming Champions League campaign. He expects his side simply to make it out of the group stages.
Overwhelming favourites, Barcelona were once again in pot one for the draw for the first time in three years. Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp are their opponets in the group, with the Belgian champions traveling to Montjuic on Tuesday.
Asked what their goal was in Europe, Xavi was not getting ahead of himself.
“The objective is clear, to advance from the group and as first. Then we will talk.”
“Last year we had a lot of misfortune in the draw. It was Bayern and Inter, who got into the final. This year we have to prove it. It seems more simple but tomorrow we play against the champion of the Belgian league. It is an assessment for ourselves.”
Xavi was also asked if the objective was to win the competition or whether it was to improve performances.
“Both things, improve in the competition and win. We must improve and compete better, the main objective is to reach the round of 16 and play well. Saturday is proof that by playing that way we can compete. Then in the round of 16 we will see but first you have to get through. We cannot speculate.”
He was convinced that if Barcelona played as well as they had in their 5-0 win over Real Betis, then they would be fine.
“I hope it happens. I hope we give our best version. If we play at the level of Saturday in Europe we will also be able to compete.”
Xavi’s Barcelona have crashed out on both occasions at the group stage, although the first time round was half down to Ronald Koeman too. In the Europa League, they were put out by Eintracht Frankfurt and Manchester United.
“We are very excited to face the competition and I hope we can take the defintive step, but I want to compete well.”
Barcelona have performed well in La Liga in fits and starts, ultimately getting the results they need. However the imperative to reach the Round of 16, if not the quarter-finals, is now looming for Barcelona. Not only could they do with the major financial rewards that would bring, but anything else would severely undermine Xavi’s managerial reputation.