·29 November 2023
·29 November 2023
Leading up to Barcelona’s game against FC Porto on Tuesday night, there was a lot of pressure on manager Xavi Hernandez.
There had been speculations of his job being under threat in case of a negative result against the Portuguese champions, with reports of Rafa Marquez being identified as a potential successor doing the rounds.
However, the 43-year-old had received the backing of club president Joan Laporta in the lead-up to the match, while after the game, it was sporting director Deco, who came out to show his support for the former midfielder.
Speaking to Movistar after the 2-1 win over Porto, Deco insisted that there have been no doubts about Xavi at any point and that Barcelona fully back him, which is why he was handed a new contract earlier this year.
“We don’t have to ratify anything, Xavi is our coach, he has a contract and he recently renewed it. And when a club renews its coach it is because it trusts him, there is no discussion,” Deco said, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.
“I understand that when we don’t play well and don’t win there is criticism, but that’s normal. This is football and we are used to it”.
Further discussing the noise around the club after a few disappointing displays, Deco added: “It’s normal, we know that rumours are normal at Barça when they don’t play well. But we know what we want on a day-to-day basis, we know that we had to bring players back, when we thought we had everyone, Gavi got injured….
“But this is football and the important thing is the day-to-day, how hard we work, how much we suffer in defeat and this is a team.”
Xavi has the backing of Deco. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Deco also spoke about the 2-1 win over Porto last night and about the qualification through to the Round of 16 of the Champions League, saying:
“It’s normal, as the final stretch of the group stage approaches, things get complicated, but we knew the importance of this game. We came from an unexpected defeat after not playing a good game against Shakhtar, we had to react and play a good game and we did that.”
The former Portuguese international also had words of praise for his compatriots Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix, who were on target for Barcelona last night.
“When we brought in Cancelo we knew that he had the ability to play on both flanks, he is a versatile player who can help us in that sense. It seems that the coach with Araujo, Koundé, and Iñigo wanted more defensive security,” Deco said.
“But in the end, the important thing is how we position ourselves on the pitch and the attitude we have. Today we played a good game from start to finish and it’s normal that we had difficulties, Porto are a great team.”
Expressing his delight at Joao Felix’s performance, the Barcelona sporting director added: “We had no doubts, if anything you had doubts (laughs). We know Joao’s ability on a day-to-day basis, he has also had a lot of minutes with 11, 12 games in a row due to injuries.
“Many games he had a chance to score, he hit the post, other times he didn’t… but that’s how it is. I’m happy for him for his confidence.”