Barcelona must ‘change mentality’ to win trophies – Xavi

Sam Marsden

Moises Llorens

Nov 25, 2023, 11:35 AM ET

Xavi Hernández said Barcelona must change their mentality if they are to have success this season after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Saturday.

Florian Lejeune’s second half own goal cancelled out Unai López’s opener as Barça’s winless run against Rayo extended to five games.

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Barça, who began the weekend in third place in LaLiga, four points behind leaders Girona, have now won just two of their last five matches in all competitions.

“I think it was a game of two halves,” Barça coach Xavi said in his post-game news conference. “In the first, we dominated, but didn’t really go for the game, we were not aggressive.

“We lacked that mentality to go for it. If we want to win trophies this season, we have to change our mentality.

“The second half was good but not enough. We woke up too late. We did what we wanted: dominated and created chances. We could have scored more.

“But we have to win these games if we want to win LaLiga, so we have to be self-critical, too, and improve. We have to be closer to the second half performance.”

Xavi’s Barcelona side were unconvincing in the draw with Rayo Vallecano. Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The result will further increase the pressure on Xavi ahead of pivotal games at home against Porto, Atlético Madrid and Girona in the next two weeks.

“It’s normal that there is criticism, but I know we can turn this around, there is plenty of time,” the Barça boss added.

“After winning LaLiga and the [Spanish] Super Cup [last season], maybe our mentality has subconsciously dropped a bit. You cannot allow that, neither from me as a coach nor the players. We have to give more.”

López gave Rayo the lead in Vallecas with a brilliant strike from distance which beat Iñaki Peña, who was filling in for the injured Marc-André ter Stegen.

Barça fought back after the break, with Ferran Torres, Pedri and Iñigo Martínez coming close with headers before Lejeune turned Alejandro Balde’s cross into his own net with Robert Lewandowski waiting to pounce.

Xavi was left aggrieved his side weren’t then awarded a late penalty for an Alfonso Espino challenge on Raphinha, while he also complained about a possible offside against Sergio Camello in the Rayo goal.

“We think [Camello’s position] conditions the goal,” he said. “If he doesn’t have a player behind him, Balde could even have let the ball go past him [on the initial block].

“They’re decisions that are going against us. You will tell me I am looking for excuses, but there was also a clear penalty on Raphinha at the end.

“We are not having any luck with these decisions. That’s not an excuse. It is a clear penalty. We [also] have to be self-critical and play better.”

Rayo coach Francisco said he had not seen the penalty claim back, but felt the draw was the right result.

“The first half was even and we both had chances,” he said. “We were good tactically. We sunk deeper in the second half, but I don’t remember them being excessively superior. A point is fair.”

Rayo remain ninth in LaLiga after just one win in their last nine games, although they have now drawn with Real Madrid and Barça during that run.


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