The Barça Regal manager Xavi Pascual gave an overview of his team’s season on Barça TV’s ‘ADN’ programme. The manager talked about his team, the technical staff and the hard-fought Liga title victory. Pascual said that the victory over Real Madrid “has a very important effect on our self esteem and it allows us to stay on top of the Spanish League for another year.” The manager recognised that his players struggled throughout the final series, especially after the defeats at the Palau and the Palacio de los Deportes against Madrid.
Injuries, the obstacle of the season
Pascual praised his team for winning the title despite the added difficulty of missing key players due to injury. The team struggled throughout the season with injuries, but it’s especially true that these injuries came during decisive moments in the year. Juan Carlos Navarro’s plantar fascia before the Euroleague’s Final Four, Eidson’s injury ahead of the Copa del Rey Final or the virus that Boniface N’dong picked up before the trip to Istanbul are just a few examples of what the team had to overcome this season. N’dong’s unavailability was especially difficult for Pascual, seeing that it affected the Senegalese’s ability to play in the final of the Liga Endesa. “We started off in a weak position against our rival, with N’dong’s injury, we only could play with three interior players and, furthermore, ‘Boni’ is our most valued player in the Liga,” said Pascual.
A surprising tactical change
After watching his team lose by 26 points, Pascual decided to tweak his team. He was convinced that he couldn’t ask his team to play the same way, especially with key players injured. “There’s a saying in life that says if you want something to change, you have to change first. We thought about it seriously and we designed a different game plan. We needed to bring different things to the table and play with their emotions. The plot of the next match played out exactly how we planned it, it was perfect.” The victory on Madrid’s court allowed Barça to take the series back to the Palau. Pascual noted that after competing for 10 months, the fact that his team had won back home-court advantage was cause for celebration. One of the key elements of Pascual’s tactical change was surprise: “it surprised everyone. Even after the three-pointer from Marcelinho we said ‘zone!’, besides the players, you could hear some of the fans’ nervousness in the stands,” said Pascual.
“Counting the Euroleague title in Paris, these two moments were extraordinary. I remember my first title, it was a Liga at home and it’s a different kind of moment because you feel that you’re at the dawn of a new era. For me, this title is very special.” The joy of winning the title was made more intense due to the fact that there were times where Barça looked to be the team that would finish second.