Xavi praises ‘winning mentality’ as Barcelona qualify for Champions League knockouts

This will be the first time in two years the Catalan club will feature in UCL’s knockout stages

By Web Desk
November 29, 2023
Xavi Hernandez gives instructions to his players during the match against FC Porto. — AFP

FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez praised his team’s winning mentality as the Catalan club cemented their place in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) knockout stages for the first time in two years after a 2-1 victory over FC Porto at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Tuesday (November 28).

Barcelona’s loan duo of Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo were on the scoresheet as the Xavi’s men overcame FC Porto’s threat to confirm their berth in the UCL round of 16 as the Blaugrana remain in first spot in Group H with 12 points from five matches.

Barca need just one point to finish their group-stage campaign as group leaders and a draw against Antwerp would be enough to seal the deal for the five-time UCL winners.

Xavi, who took the realm in 2021, stated that his players showed a winning mentality as the club took an important step in the right direction.

"We needed this after two years," Xavi said. "We reacted well and displayed a winning mentality on several occasions.

"This was an important step in the right direction. It means a lot to the club.

"That's the first of our targets achieved in the Champions League. It has calmed us down and boosted our confidence, especially that of the players."

Xavi was relieved to finally end the Europa League streak. If Barca had failed to qualify for the knockout stage of UCL this season, his job would’ve been in danger, as reported by multiple Spanish news outlets throughout the week.

"The feeling is of happiness and of doing things well. We are progressing. But I don't feel liberated, I feel happy," the Spaniard said.

"You never solve all the problems at Barcelona, but it's a day to congratulate the team and the club for advancing.

"There are many things to improve, of course. We have to be humble. We have done some things very well, others not so.”

The win was much-needed after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano which saw them dropping to fourth position in La Liga points table, four points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid.

Barcelona host Atletico Madrid next on Sunday (December 3) where they need to record a win as a draw or a loss would give them a major setback in their title race.