Xavi hails Valverde impact

Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez has hailed Ernesto Valverde’s impact at the club ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico clash with Real Madrid.

Xavi is now playing with Al-Sadd in the Middle East after leaving the Camp Nou in 2015, with his former club 11 points ahead of Zinedine Zidane’s side going into the match at the Bernabeu.

“Valverde has made Barcelona into a functioning team,” Xavi is quoted as saying by Marca.

“The signings have all settled in well and everything at the moment is positive, the team are solid and are well positioned to win El Clasico…and that would rule out Madrid of a title race.

“Madrid will have more confidence after their Club World Cup win but they are not playing well, not like Barcelona.

“Valverde has Barca playing attacking football, they press well and have a lot of possession, which I imagine will be the case at the Bernabeu too.

“The midfield gets forward well, Paulinho is scoring goals and Rakitic is playing a key role and they both keep the ball well but they are physical too.

“They have bounced back well from the Supercopa and they have used that for motivation.”

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