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No axe to grind, says Xavi: “We just want to win the league”

AS AS 14/05/2014 As.com

FC Barcelona captain Xavi Hernández was designated the role of attending the media on Wednesday, just 72 hours ahead of the team’s league title decider against Atlético de Madrid. The midfielder was clear about Barça’s intentions, telling reporters, “We don’t want to silence anyone; all we want is to win the league”.

Another shot at the title: “It didn’t look good for us, we had practically given up on the league but we’ve been given another chance. We’ll be playing in front of our fans; everything is in our favour to win. We’re hoping for a packed stadium with the fans right behind us, knowing what is at stake. This is an historic opportunity; it’s going to be an amazing finale. Only a few days ago, anyone who thought we would still be in with a chance on the last day would have been considered to have a screw loose”.

Criticism: “It’s not about silencing the critics - all we want is to win the league. Barcelonísmo deserves it – the players, the coaching staff... we all deserve a little happiness after what has been a difficult year”.

Cherry on the cake for the current generation of players: “We have an excellent generation of players and we are still capable of achieving great things in the years to come. This is a unique game for us – I doubt we’ll experience anything quite as similar again. It’s going to be a fantastic match and winning would be the cheery on the cake for our generation. We’ve never had such an important game in the league”.

Photo © Proporcionado por AS

Tough year: “It’s been a testing year. The toughest years for me were the ones when we were not winning silverware or even in contention for trophies – when we were finishing fourth in the table. Those were sad times; it’s not the same today”.

Atlético de Madrid: “It’s going to be difficult for us. They are one the top defensive sides in Europe. They pressurize their opponents, function as a team and have a lot of different variety to their game in attack. They’re a tricky side and probably the most in-form side in Europe. In our last five games, we’ve lost one and drawn four. They key to beating them will be getting an early goal to coax them out into playing more openly”.

Arbeloa’s absence from the Spain list: “That’s what the coach has decided. [Arbeloa] has been an important player for the national team and it’s a bit of a surprise but there are always new players coming through who also deserve an opportunity. It’s Vicente’s decision”.

Valdés and Puyol moving on: “It’s a real shame because we are such big friends. Puyol is an example to our generation in terms of leadership and strength. We’ll really miss him both on and off the pitch – and Víctor too, he’s the best goalkeeper in Barça’s history”.

Rumours concerning Luis Enrique and the Barça job: “It’s nothing more than speculation. We’re about to play for the league title, this isn’t the right moment to be talking about who will be staying or leaving. I have a very good relationship with Luis Enrique but we have to respect Tata who is a very dedicated, hard-working coach and we, the players value him highly”.

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