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Xavi Hernández played for the FC Barcelona first team from 1998 until 2015. In an interview with ‘Revista Barça’, the club’s official magazine, the former club captain talks about his first season away from Barça:
I just returned to Barcelona after my first season in Doha and I realise how much my life has changed in just a few months. I have changed city, country, team and by living in Asia, my daughter has made me and my wife Nuria see life in a different way. We are very far away but we are very connected through the internet, we have everything connected to the TV, and it’s as if we were in Barcelona. As soon as I get up, I read the sports papers, in the morning we listen to Basté (Barcelona-based TV/radio host) and in the evening we watch Cuní (Spanish presenter). The routine is the same, except we are in Qatar.
I have been fortunate to experience Barça in a different way. After 17 years of playing in the first team and after almost 25 years at the Club, I have discovered what it is like to be a fan and I must say that I have enjoyed it a lot, but I have also suffered a lot more on the sofa than when on the field! I get very nervous, as if I was on the field!
The first reflexion that comes to mind about Barça is that, when you are away, you really notice the dimension that the Club has. The whole world is waiting, the whole world knows everything. But, above all, I have noticed the quality that our team has. I have watched more football than ever, I have watched at least 95% of Barça’s matches, as well as other big European teams and I can say, without doubt, that Barça is on another level. They are the best team in the world by far! I think the only other team that comes close is Pep’s Bayern. But the rest are playing a different sport. I watch Barça and I drool!
It is not just the players that we have, it i show we play as a team. I know how they have trained and how they prepare, what they do tactically, and they do it perfectly. Physically, tactically and technically. This year, Barça were not champions of Europe, but they are the best team in the world by far, without any doubt. I Heard Pep say this: Barça can lose matches but they are the best team. And if we did a ranking of the top ten players in the world, Barça would have five or six. It would be tough to name players for Barça to sign as we practically have the best in each position.
The best match I saw was the 4-0 (against Real Madrid away). I was convinced that we would go on to win the treble. I said it to the players, to Andres (Iniesta), to Busquets, to Jordi Alba: “You will win the treble!” But it was a shame to lose out in the Champions League. From what I understand, the trip to South America (for international duty) affected us a lot. It is not just a player, it was the three up front who made a large journey and then came the Clasico. It affected us.
If it is another game that you lose 2-1 at home, you could say it would not matter, but El Clasico hurts because it leaves a mark, and it left a mark until the elimination of the Champions League.
But we had an excellent season and I must confess that, sometimes, I would think: “If I could have been playing, I would have...”. There are moments in which I am very eager to participate. For example, the 4-0 win in Madrid, I was very envious! I have not watched the 6-2 in its entirety, nor the 5-0, I have not even watched the Champions League finals that I have played in, and I can say that the 4-0 at the Bernabeu is the best match I have watched as a fan. What superiority!
In the Copa del Rey final I suffered a lot. I did not watch it clearly, but tactically we were very good, prepared, 4-4-1, with Leo (Messi) up front, the four in midfield working hard, Neymar too; Andres was spectacular, Busi as always, Gerard (Pique) had an extraordinary season, the goalkeeper, everyone had a massive season.
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