Xavi took charge of Barcelona for the first time in November last year and began his tenure with a win over Espanyol but gave an emotional speech before the match.
Xavi told his players he would “defend them to the death” before taking charge of his first game in Barcelona.
The player-turned-manager received a call from his former club as they searched for a replacement for Ronald Koeman last season. Xavi left Al Sadd to take charge at the Nou Camp – a move he was expected to make at some point in his career – and began his tenure with a game against Espanyol.
A local derby means the stakes are higher than usual with the Catalan giants sitting ninth in LaLiga. Xavi warned his players that opponents would seek a reaction from them and announced that it was he – not them – who was under pressure.
He said before the game: “Control emotions. There are 90 minutes with eleven players. They will provoke us, the referees… Espanyol, we already know that. You have to run like an animal, you have to bite, this is Espanyol, this is the derby. The public is with us and the people are excited.
“The first few minutes were at full speed and trying things. The pressure was on me and the staff. We have very young people, football trying, trying, again, again… the pressure was on me. I told you that I will defend you to death in the press conference. Play it easy.”
The clip was seen in Amazon Prime’s documentary ‘A New Era’, which provides an in-depth look at recent events in Catalonia. Xavi’s managerial success with Barcelona ended in a narrow 1-0 win with Memphis Depay scoring the winning goal from the spot.
Xavi, playing in Pep Guardiola’s squad, went on to record a second-place finish in his first full season, including a 4-0 win at the Bernabeu, but he was unable to lead the Catalans to the knockout stages. Champions League.
The terms share a similar narrative – LaLiga’s success overshadows underachievement in Europe. Xavi was given big money during the summer transfer window when Barcelona added the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.
They currently sit top of the league, two points clear of champions Real Madrid, having won 12 of their 14 games. But Xavi has fallen short in the Champions League – winning only two of their six pool matches as they were beaten by Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, which could have huge financial consequences for the Spanish club.