Xavi looking to 'bounce right back'
Xavi Hernandez says a good result for Barcelona in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal first leg against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou can set them up well to reach this season’s final, and also help move on quickly from last weekend’s shock 3-2 home La Liga defeat to Valencia.
• Lediwth: Barca must not take Real Sociedad lightly
During a busy January Barca have sailed through the Copa to the last four, but have struggled more in La Liga -- only picking up five points from their last four games.
After being presented with the "Extraordinary Trophy" at a Great Gala of Sport event organised by Mundo Deportivo, the Catalan playmaker told his club’s website that the aim now was to put Saturday’s result behind them and get a lead ahead of the semifinal second leg in San Sebastian next midweek.
“It is always good to play again straight after a bad result, so you can bounce right back,” Xavi said. “We are in the cup semifinal and are excited about the chance of reaching another final. [Real Sociedad] are a great side -- it is going to be key that we get a good result at home, so we can travel to Anoeta with the pressure off.”
Blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino has signalled how important he sees Wednesday's game by naming a full strength squad, changing a policy of previously resting a few first team players for each Copa outing, and said at his pregame news conference that he wanted to see a much improved performance from the weekend.
The Valencia defeat -- coupled with Atletico Madrid’s 4-0 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday -- saw Barca slip off the top of the table for the first time in over 18 months. Xavi said Barca knew they could not afford many more slip-ups given the title race was so tight -- with Real Madrid also in the running.
“It is always better to be leading the table, but Atletico Madrid are only three points ahead -- they are a strong side and will be in the mix right till the end of the season,” he said. “So will Real Madrid, despite dropping points in Bilbao.
"The defeat on Saturday was an accident -- we are clear about what happened and we were very unlucky. We put in an extraordinary first half, but we weren’t so good in the second and paid a very high price for it. We have to put that behind us now, we need to look at ourselves and see what we have to improve – there is no more margin of error.”