Xavi Hernández insists that the squad is working flat out in training despite the absence of first team manager Tito Vilanova, with whom he’s in frequent contact by mobile phone, and stresses that the players are 100% committed to the work being carried out by assistant coach Jordi Roura. “We’re missing Tito but everything’s carrying on the same”. He, speaking in an interview with Catalan sports, 'Sport', daily believes that the next few matches will be crucial, in the league as well as in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. “We accept we are the big favourites for the Champions League. Having so much expected of us is a lot of pressure but at the same time we accept the challenge”.
However, Xavi is not underestimating the threat of the Italian side: “We have to compete. Milan isn’t just any old team. They have players that are strong defensively – tough and with a lot of talent”. He points to the likes of El Shaarawy, Bojan and Boateng to emphasise that Milan “is a great team, with seven European Cups”.
As for the Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid, Xavi explains: “Looking at the first leg, it’s obvious that we should have scored one or two more goals. Against Real Madrid, if you don’t kill off the game, they end up coming back”. The tie will be decided now in the Camp Nou: “We’ve got 90 minutes at home and we hope to build on the 1-1 draw in the Santiago Bernabéu”.
Meanwhile, the team is taking nothing for granted in the league: “We’ve got ourselves into a good position but we can’t put aside the league”. However, he admits that the team is playing well and is “good enough to win and keep on winning”. “We’re feeling very comfortable and we’re enjoying ourselves. What’s most important is the team we have, the staff, the assistants, this generation of players and the good atmosphere. You can win or lose but you have to compete until the end”.
“We’re missing Tito but everything’s carrying on the same”
“We have to compete. Milan isn’t just any old team. They have players that are strong defensively – tough and with a lot of talent”