Xavi opens up on physical state of Barcelona after three defenders limp off

One of the sub-stories of Barcelona’s match with Real Sociedad was the fact that 10 minutes of added time were added at the end of the second half. A large part of that was due to Barcelona however, with all four of their defenders going down injured at various points.

Uruguayan defender Ronald Araujo was the first to be withdrawn, replaced by Eric Garcia in the 55th minute. He was holding his knee and Sport are saying he is likely to be missing for Barcelona’s fixture with Rayo Vallecano this Sunday.

38-year-old Dani Alves was the next to go, Sergino Dest coming on for the Brazilian 11 minutes later. Finally Gerard Pique survived until the 80th minute, when Clement Lenglet was his substitute.

This became a talking point in the post-match press conference and manager Xavi Hernandez told Mundo Deportivo that it was down to the change in playing style.

“Because we have changed the style of play and I try to press high for 90 minutes and that hasn’t been done for a long time, we are suffering.”

“The pressure after losing the ball hasn’t been done for a long time and the physical fatigue is obvious. These players are not used to it but the effort is praiseworthy.”

The Terrassa native was grateful to his players for lasting as long as they did though.

“Gerard [Pique’s effort] is spectacular. He endured with the team until the 80th minute, [Ronald] Araujo was looking at us from the 20th minute…”

“Before, five months ago, we were playing in a mid-block and a low-block but I don’t want that. That’s why the players ended up melted. We should improve on a tactical, physical, psychological level… It’s just that we are at the start of a project.”

The inability to pressure was a large part of the reason for Xavi’s discontent with the match, even if he was happy with the commitment.

Finally, he was asked about Gerard Pique and his mental state after a tricky week.

“I think I would have played Pique regardless, he has had these niggles for two or three months, but this week will have helped him, this adrenaline suits him. Despite these niggles, he is a leader and a vital footballer since I arrived.”

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