Football Soccer Barca out for revenge against Girona says Xavi
Football Soccer Barca out for revenge against Girona says Xavi

Football: Soccer-Barca out for revenge against Girona, says Xavi

(Reuters) – Barcelona take on Girona in the Catalan derby this weekend and will be out to avenge their defeat from earlier this season as both sides battle for second place in LaLiga, manager Xavi Hernandez said on Friday.

Girona won 4-2 in Barcelona when the teams met in December, which put Michel’s side top of the standings, and although Real Madrid now look set to win the title and Barca have moved into second, Xavi still wants payback against their neighbours.

“There is no challenge with Michel but there is a challenge of revenge for the first half of the season,” the Barcelona boss told a press conference.

“They were very forceful, we didn’t adjust well, we didn’t defend well in the box. It’s not a personal challenge but as a team.”

Girona, the season’s surprise package, come into Saturday’s home game on the back of two wins, and a victory would see them leapfrog Barca and move into second place as they look to secure Champions League football for the first time.

“A vital match. Their confidence is through the roof,” Xavi said.

“We have to congratulate them, their season is magnificent, at an extraordinary level, Champions League level. We were bad in defending their team in the home game, these are situations that we have analysed.”

Girona have a 13-point advantage over Athletic Bilbao who are fifth, and their Champions League place will already be safe by the time they face Barcelona if Bilbao lose at Getafe on Friday.

“It’s not going to change much, they’ll go out to win, they want to be second, there’s a lot more at stake,” Xavi said.

“Their mentality will not change even if Athletic fails. We’re up against a team that has done a lot of good things to get to where it is. They’ll be second if they deserve it.

“It is a source of pride for Catalan football that Girona are in the Champions League and have also been candidates to win the title.”

Barcelona, meanwhile, can keep their slim title hopes mathematically alive with a victory, although the manager spoke only of the importance of finishing second, while refusing to speak of the future.

Last week, Xavi reversed his decision to leave the club at the end of the season, but is concentrating on the present, and that also goes for the future of players such as Robert Lewandowski.

“We value Robert’s presence in the team very much and we will decide on his future at the end of the season,” the manager said.

“This is not the time to talk about futures, we are playing for second place.”

Real Madrid, who host Cadiz on Saturday, are top with 84 points and five games remaining, Barcelona have 73 and Girona are on 71 points.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Toby Davis)

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