No margin for error against Inter – Xavi warns

No margin for error against Inter - Xavi warns


Xavi warned Barcelona they have “no margin for error” in Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Inter, declaring only a win will do for the Blaugrana at Camp Nou.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s long-range strike condemned Barca to their second defeat in three Champions League outings last week, leaving them three points adrift of the Nerazzurri in Group C.

That defeat was just the second Barca have suffered in 11 Champions League meetings with Inter (W6 D3), but another reverse would see them eliminated if Bayern Munich avoid defeat to Viktoria Plzen.

The importance of the occasion was not lost on Xavi at his pre-match news conference, where the former midfielder outlined his team’s desire for retribution.

“We expect an Inter very similar to the one in Milan. They will form the lower block, the middle block, we have alternatives, we have prepared them,” Xavi said.

“It is a final, and we have no margin for error. With the help of the fans, we hope there will be a magical night.

“We must not lower our guard; there is talent, there is a desire for revenge, so we have to give everything so that the victory stays here.

“I would like to be a player tomorrow, I would rather be a player than a coach tomorrow. For me, it is a very good opportunity. We are motivated and hopeful.”

Xavi described the decision to deny Pedri a second-half equaliser last week as an “injustice” after Ansu Fati was penalised for handball, but the Blaugrana coach says his team must make the officials’ performances immaterial by improving.

“We had a logical outrage after the game, but that’s it. Tomorrow it’s time to play better,” Xavi added. “If we improve the game, maybe we won’t talk about the referees.”

Inter’s tally of 0.18 expected goals (xG) in last week’s victory was the lowest of any team to have won a Champions League game this season, and Xavi knows Barcelona must remain patient in the return fixture.

“It’s a game to be calm, to know how to position yourself, you don’t have to score in minute one. We have to try not to feel the pressure, I always tell them that the pressure is on me,” he added.

“You have to be patient, but if we attack like in the second half in Milan, I’m optimistic. We have to be more aggressive. Only three points are worth it for us, we have to be brave.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona have been beset by defensive injuries recently, and while Jules Kounde is unlikely to feature on Wednesday, Xavi hopes he will return to face Real Madrid on Sunday.

“We don’t count on him except for a surprise, for Sunday we will see. He can make it, but it will depend on his feelings,” Xavi added. “I see him well, training hard, positive, my feeling is that he can make it to Sunday.”