New Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez is facing the first serious test in his rescue mission for the club Catalan, when he receives Benfica, the Portuguese, on Tuesday in the penultimate fifth round of the European football Champions League.
Xavi, hailing from Qatari squad Al Sadd, led his team to their first win against Espanyol 1-0 in the local league on Sunday, climbing to sixth place in ranking, after a disappointing start to the season that led to the sacking of Dutchman Ronald Koeman.
Blaugrana needed a penalty from Dutch striker Memphis Depay and a post he saved in two chances in the second half, getting his first win in championship in five games.
Barcelona appeared as if they were looking to implement Xavi’s next approach about two weeks ago to save the team from its technical stagnation, while the club was in great debt which led to the abandonment of his Argentine legend Lionel Messi at the start of the season at Paris Saint-Germain.
Xavi pushed a team he reinforced with young players, such as Ghafi, Elias Akhomach, Moroccan Abdel Samad Zalzouli, Austrian Youssef Demir, Ricky Butch and Nico Gonzalez.
“We cannot ignore our principles … We have to take more risks,” said the historic midfielder after the victory over his arch rival.
But against Benfica the risk price could be high, in when he competes with his guest for the second tile of the group alongside Bayern Munich, who qualified.
After a disappointing start that saw him lose twice to Bayern and Benfica by one point, 0-3, Barcelona partially compensated with two wins against Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv, again by one point, 1-0, to occupy second place, two points behind Benfica, third.
When Barcelona came under pressure at the end of the last match against Espanyol, Xavi explained some of his guidelines: “I don’t see a physical problem, it’s a problem to understand the game.”
He continued: “We have to face the opponent, dominate and control the ball. It’s not a physical problem, it’s a ball problem.”
Barcelona are 10 points behind their rivals Real Madrid, but have 25 games until the end of the season and are looking to correct their course.
Xavi added: “We are calm after winning the first game. This victory reassures us and lifts our spirits. But Tuesday is a new battle and we cannot ignore our principles. This is a new final for us.”
– Bayern and the vaccination crisis – In the same group, Bayern Munich will beat Dinamo Kiev, last in ranking, after having secured the qualification for the round of 16.
The Bavarian team is missing five players on their trip to the Ukrainian capital in quarantine, including Joshua Kimmich, which sparked the debate in Germany after refusing to be vaccinated for “personal concerns”.
Kimmich was put in quarantine Friday for the second time in this season, after having contact with a person who had contracted the Corona virus.
On Sunday, Bayern confirmed that their unvaccinated players, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Cameroonian Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting and France’s Michael Quizance, had entered stone.
In light of the Corona outbreak that has troubled team manager Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern suffered a sudden loss to Augsburg 1-2 on Friday in the local league, as their lead was reduced to one point against Borussia Dortmund.
Nagelsmann refused to blame the absence of Kimmich, who was widely criticized in Germany for its refusal to be vaccinated: “This is not an excuse”.
The press has indicated Bayern’s intention to deduct the salaries of its unvaccinated players, knowing that Kimmich’s annual salary amounts to 20 million euros. The one-week quarantine means losses of around 384,000 euros.
– United to turn the page on Solskjaer – In group six, Manchester United are hoping to turn the page on the start of their disappointing season, which saw the sacking of their Norwegian manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on Sunday after a 4-1 defeat for the humble Watford who took him to eighth place in the “Premier League”.
And the former midfielder, Michael Carrick, has taken over the supervision of the team in the upcoming games, “in one moment in which the club he is trying to appoint a provisional manager until the end of the season. “
The confrontation of the Villarreal “submarines” will be crucial for the “Red Devils” team, which must avoid losing, before the last round, which will be open to all possibilities. in case of his fall.
United is in head with Villarreal with seven points, two points behind the Italian Atalanta, ready to pounce on the two leaders, who overcame the last Swiss Young Boys (3).
United are also expecting two strong matches in the local league, specifically against Chelsea and Arsenal, respectively, on 28 and 2 December today.
Manchester United, runner-up in the local league last season, have only won 4 times in their last 13 games in various competitions.
Chelsea, champion in charge, fight with Juventus in head to group H, with a preference for the second, which leads with four wins complete and qualifies for three, compared to three for Chelsea, who lost in the first leg against the “old lady” with Federico Chiesa’s goal.
The London team will guarantee the second qualification in case of a tie, regardless of the outcome of the second match between the Russians of Zenit (3) and the Swedes of Malmo (0).
In the seventh round there is a strong fight for qualification. Austrian leaders Red Bull Salzburg (7) will beat second-placed Lille (5), while the last Spanish side Sevilla (3) are looking for their first win when they host Germany’s Wolfsburg (5).
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