Barcelona revival due to my decision to step down – Xavi

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said his decision to step down in the summer has sparked the team’s recent revival in LaLiga and the Champions League.

Barça are unbeaten in 12 matches since Xavi made his announcement in January, during which time they have climbed to second in the league and progressed to the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 2020, beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in the first leg in midweek.

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“Since making the decision public, there has been more calm around the club and from the media,” Xavi said in a news conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Cádiz in LaLiga.

“It helps knowing there is an expiry date. With my decision, I was convinced we would be where we are now. That’s what I said to the president [Joan Laporta] at the time. I made the decision for the good of the club.

“If I hadn’t made it, it would have been a disaster. It was the right decision. That calm is the reason we are where we are. Without it, it would have been much more difficult.”

Barça host PSG in the second leg at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday with the chance to reach a first Champions League semifinal since 2019.

Before then, they face Cádiz, who currently occupy the third and final relegation spot in LaLiga, and Xavi says anything other than a win would end his side’s slim title hopes before next weekend’s Clásico against leaders Real Madrid, who are eight points clear with eight games to go.

“Cadiz have only lost one of their last five games and are fighting to stay up, so they have a lot to play for,” Xavi said.

“It’s a vital game and, if we don’t win, [winning] LaLiga is practically over for us. If we really want to push until the end — which will be tough but we won’t throw in the towel — we have to win on Saturday.

“A title is up for grabs so I don’t think the players will need any extra motivation [after the PSG win]. But if we don’t win, the Clásico won’t mean very much next week.”

Xavi will be forced to make changes against Cádiz, with Robert Lewandowski, João Cancelo and Iñigo Martínez all suspended, while Gavi and Alejandro Balde remained sidelined with injuries.

Ilkay Gündogan could also be rested, but Frenkie de Jong and Pedri will both get minutes after they returned from injury layoffs against PSG on Wednesday.

Lamine Yamal is also available for selection and doing well after a derogatory remark made about him on Movistar by on-air analyst Germán Burgos, who was later fired.

Burgos, Diego Simeone’s former assistant at Atlético Madrid, said Yamal “could always end up [working at a traffic light]” if football did not work out for him in allusion to those who ask drivers stopped at traffic lights for money.

“As you say, [the comment] was disgusting and condemnable,” Xavi said. “Lamine is doing OK. There is no need to speak about it any more.”