FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez was critical of his attack and stated that his team’s considerable points lead over Real Madrid at the La Liga summit is “not insurmountable” after they beat Villarreal on Sunday evening.
The Blaugrana extended the difference between themselves and bitter rivals to 11 points with a gutsy 1-0 win at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Man of the Match Pedri was the hero of the hour with his 18th minute goal, but there were world class performances elsewhere from Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong while the team on a whole performed well.
Speaking in his post-match interview, however, Xavi rued missed chances and poor passing from his attackers moving forward.
“I saw many pre-goal options which did not materialize,” he said. “The last pass was missing, the decision making . When you don’t do it, it’s always the same – you suffer until the end. But we took three vital points for the fight for the league”.
“We had more chances, that’s enough to score more goals. The team isn’t successful in shooting. We’re an attacking team, even if we win by the minimum [score],” he added later.
Despite the cushion the Catalans enjoy at the top of the table, Xavi also refuses to rest on his laurels.
“It is not an insurmountable distance, there are 17 games left,” he pointed out. “I’m happy, we have a very good run of results, [it’s] extraordinary. We are solid, serious, hardworking. These games are costly and it is one more example that the team is solid.”
Praise was set aside for Araujo, however, who was “extraordinary” and the player that has “grown the most with the ball” since Xavi arrived as head coach, plus Frenkie de Jong.
“The key is the confidence we give him, how he feels,” Xavi explained. “He is happy and very important in the team. He is a complete player”.
Xavi also said that Pedri is “an innate talent that gives us many things” while operating at a “very high level”.
Looking ahead to Thursday in the Europa League, Xavi noted that playoff first leg foes Manchester United arrive “almost at the best moment of the season”.
“Predicting things in a European match is difficult. We are excited to do a good job and get through the tie,” he concluded.