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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Exactly one week before the cup final, one of the FC Barcelona captains, Xavi Hernández, has warned how dangerous Athletic Bilbao can be. “They are a very demanding opponent, because they mark man to man. They are a physically strong side, they run for 90 minutes and create a lot of pressure up front. Llorente, for example, never stops running. Such intensity doesn’t leave us with much time to think.” He also commented today that “it’ll be a great match. I think it’ll be very tough and physical”.

Guaranteed defenders

Xavi Hernández also spoke about the depleted defensive resources at the club. “We are missing important players, like Puyol, Abidal and Alves, these are big losses, but Adriano is playing spectacular football, Montoya is good enough to play in a final and Mascherano and Piqué are on form. We have very well prepared people to cover for the absences in defence”.

Xavi also spoke about how much his team is looking forward to the final at the Calderón, even though this has been an ‘atypical’ week due to there not being a game.

Tito the right choice

Xavi reckons that the lack of match action is the precise reason why the press is instead filling its pages with rumours. “These things are inevitable. Everyone is free to speak their mind, but the squad are only concentrating on the final. Everything is quite normal, the relationship between Guardiola and Tito is excellent and we are all united. But what we can’t do is control what goes on around us” he said.

On the matter of the new head coach, Xavi said “Tito is a highly respected figure among the players. He sees a lot of football and is passionate about this game. He knows the place and he also played a key role in the successes of the last four years. He’s the least drastic change, and the right choice”.

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