Xavi feels 'total trust' at Barcelona despite poor performances
MADRID (AP) — A win against Porto will be enough to put Barcelona back in the knockout rounds of the Champions League after two consecutive group-stage eliminations.
It may not be enough to ease the pressure on coach Xavi Hernandez, who has struggled to get his team to play well recently.
Barcelona is coming off a stretch that includes a 1-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in its last Champions League game, and a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano in its previous Spanish league match. The team has even produced lackluster performances when winning recent matches.
"Things did not go as expected lately," Xavi said. "Against Rayo it was better, but we have lacked continuity. Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us. It can be a turning point. I really believe we will be playing better again. If I didn't, I wouldn't even be here."
Barcelona will advance with a win, or with a draw if Shakhtar doesn't beat Antwerp in the other Group H match on Tuesday. The Catalan club failed to reach the knockout stage in the two seasons after Lionel Messi left the club.
"There's always pressure at Barca," Xavi said. "It's always been like this and that won't change. You have to win at this club."
Xavi said he feels the full support from the club despite the recent struggles. "We all believe in the project and there is total trust," he said.
Barcelona has the same nine points as second-place Porto, which is coming off a win against last-place Antwerp. Shakhtar is third with six points.
Xavi could be without Marc-Andre ter Stegen because of a back injury. The goalkeeper did not practice with the rest of the group in training on Monday and is doubtful for Tuesday's match.
"He will undergo tests before the match to check on the pain and see if he is 100% to play," Xavi said.
The coach was certain to be without Gavi after the young playmaker sustained a serious knee injury while on duty with Spain.
Xavi was not expected to rest anybody against Porto even though Barcelona at the weekend hosts Atletico Madrid in a match that could be crucial in the Spanish league.
"In the last few matches we haven't played how we wanted," Barcelona defender Joao Cancelo said. "We have a chance now to play well and gain some confidence going forward."
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