Xavi Hernandez has called on his Barcelona teammates to dig deep in the final four games of the season and not give up on retaining the title.
Barca’s 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday means they remain four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, their opponents on the final weekend of the season.
Atletico could have the title wrapped up by that point if they win their remaining games but Xavi said after the win over Athletic that Barca have to focus on their results.
“We need to work, run, fight and win to try and reverse the situation,” AS reports the midfielder as saying.
“It’s not up to us but we know we have to do our job, win all four remaining games.
“We knew the importance of [Sunday’s game] and knowing you don’t depend on yourself, it’s important to win and to hope.
“Overall we did well in defence and attack. But it still hurts to be eliminated from the Champions League and lose the Cup final.
“That was terrible for the team and we have to overcome the blow. We must continue because this team can still fight.”
Xavi added that he was pleased with the way Barca recovered after Athletic took the lead. It was also put to Xavi that Athletic Coach Ernesto Valverde could make the move to Barca.
“We could have scored long before and we played a good match. It’s important to get the three points and maintain our options in the League,” the playmaker continued.
“In the end the team has shown their quality and played a very good game. We sacrificed a lot but we have shown our character.
“They play like this, it’s the Coach’s attacking system and it works well, but it’s not for me to talk about future events,” he insisted.
Lionel Messi scored what proved to be the winning goal and Xavi was fulsome in his praise of his teammate, denouncing the criticism directed at the Argentine in recent weeks.
“Today, again, Messi has decided the game. Much of the time too much is asked of him. People should leave him alone and let him work,” Xavi said.
“People are very focused on results. We lost the Cup final and were eliminated from the Champions League. We work knowing what people expect from us.”