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Barca coach Xavi: Still league and cup to play for after European exit

Madrid, Feb 25 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez attempted to take some importance from his side’s exit from Europe at the hands of Manchester United on Thursday as he spoke to the press ahead of Sunday’s La Liga trip to Almeria.

Depending on the result of Saturday’s Madrid derby, Barca will go into the match in Almeria with a lead of between five and eight points over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, reports Xinhua news agency.

Xavi’s side now only has domestic competitions to focus on after their exit from the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, which has meant another blow to the club’s economy.

The defeat again sees Barca exit Europe early, but Xavi insisted that his team could still finish a season to remember.

“The message is that this continues,” he said, adding that the “biggest disappointment of the season” was not going out of the Europa League now, but “the loss in the Champions League” last November.

“This hurts, but we have the league and the Copa del Rey and it is essential to finish the season well. We have to compete in the league and cup and we have to keep winning titles. It upsets us to lose, but we have to keep competing,” insisted Xavi.

Midfielder Pedri is still out with a hamstring problem for Sunday’s match, while Ousmane Dembele is also sidelined with a muscle problem, although Gavi will be back in the side after missing out in midweek through suspension.

Xavi also announced that Ansu Fati would not travel to Almeria after suffering a minor knee injury in training, but added that the young forward would be fit for next Thursday’s Copa del Rey semi final first leg away to Real Madrid next Thursday.



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