Xavi not worried by recent Barcelona habit
Xavi believes his Barcelona side are playing well enough to win games more comfortably despite their habit of doing the bare minimum continuing on Sunday.
The Blaugrana took all three points as Pedri’s 18th-minute strike was enough to see them past Villarreal last time out, extending their winning streak to eight games across all competitions.
Of those eight victories, five have been sealed via a one-goal margin – a habit that has followed Barcelona throughout this season.
That said, Barcelona have still scored more goals than any other team in La Liga this season (43), while they sit top of the pile when it comes to Expected Goals (43.9), shots on target per match (5.6), and big chances created (56).
Barca now sit 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table and are easily doing enough to win by more convincing scorelines – a terrifying thought for the rest of the Spanish top flight.
“We have had more than enough chances to score more goals, but many times it is the success of the team, which is not successful in the last pass, decision-making, shooting,” Xavi told reporters after Sunday’s victory. “We have been very clear, even in numerical superiority. We are a very offensive team although we won by the minimum.”
Even with an El Clasico left, it’s going to be tough for Real Madrid to overturn the deficit in the title race now. Even so, Barca have a busy upcoming schedule that includes a Europa League showdown with Manchester United and two more meetings with Los Blancos in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Xavi is only too aware of the pressures that lie ahead and is not writing off Real Madrid from catching up in the league just yet.
“Insurmountable? Not at all. There is a world left,” Xavi said. “But [I am] happy because we are on a very good run.”
England will be considered failures if we don’t win Euro 2024
England defender Harry Maguire has revealed he will head to Euro 2024 with the mindset that anything less than winning the competition will be a failure.
The Three Lions have cemented their status as a strong tournament team over the last half-decade under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.
After reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2018, England were only denied victory at Euro 2020 on penalties against Italy in the final.
There were high hopes that they could go all the way at the 2022 World Cup over the winter, but were narrowly beaten by reigning champions France in a hard-fought quarter-final.
England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Italy, and speaking to the press post-match, Maguire revealed his ambitions for glory in Germany next summer.
“I think for me, at my age as well, 30 years old now, I’m with a mindset of, ‘If we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” he said.
“We’ve got to qualify first – I mean it’s a tough group, [but] we’ve come here and got an amazing result.
“But that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. I believe we have the players to win it. We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament. So ultimately, when we get knocked out, as a squad we’re disappointed. The performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets at the tournament, we were one of the top goalscorers despite going out in the quarter-final.
“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed [on as manager]. We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. He’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and, for sure, it benefits us for us for him to be in charge.
“These big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them ten times, we would give them a good game ten times and probably win more than we lose.
“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So it’s something that we’re working on. We have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”
Maguire recognised that England were simply beaten at the 2022 World Cup by a more experienced and successful international side in France.
Despite reservations over Didier Deschamps, the 54-year-old has an incredible tournament record – to have won one final and lost two others is a far better record than most other coaches in the history of football.
England hope to be on a similar path with Southgate, but as Maguire insisted, they need to win a tournament if they’re to be remembered fondly and without tinges of regret.
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