FC Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has addressed Raphinha’s rage at being substituted and Pedri’s injury in a Europa League playoff thriller against Manchester United.
The Brazilian equalized to make it 2-2 in the first leg at Camp Nou, and also provided the assist for Marcos Alonso’s opener.
Understandably then, he could not hide his rage at being hooked for Ferran Torres around 10 minutes from the end which Xavi was asked about post-match following the stalemate.
“I understand Raphinha’s anger. I have done it for the good of the team, I never make changes to target anyone,” Xavi claimed.
“He has apologized to me, but he doesn’t have to. I always ask my players for ambition and he has been [ambitious]. It also bothered me when they replaced me,” the legendary midfielder explained, in a nod to his own playing days.
“He apologized to me and I told him everything is fine. You may see it as something negative, but I see the opposite.”
Worryingly for Xavi, one of his best playmakers in the center of the park, Pedri, hobbled off before half time with a knock and could be doubtful for the second leg at Old Trafford.
“He noticed discomfort in the quadriceps. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and what the tests say,” Xavi stated.
The manager praise the opposition and called United a “hard-working and physical great team”.
‘Both teams had chances. Us especially, were able to score the winning goal. I already said that the tie would be decided at Old Trafford and that’s how it will be,” Xavi claimed.
“They have pressured us well. It is a team that wins many physical duels. It was difficult for us to get the ball out, but we continued to press well after losing. United have great footballers. I insist: we played a great team,” Xavi stressed.
Though Xavi felt Barca should have had a penalty, 2-2 was probably a fair score here in a game where United dominated the end of the first half and Barca the closing stages of the second.
Once again, though, Xavi has demonstrated excellent man management skills in the way he has handled Raphinha’s conduct, and has no doubt encouraged the winger to play even better than seen in a display that brought him his greatest ovation from the Catalan crowd to date on Thursday evening.
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