Xavi: Tiki-taka saved me, Valverde…

Xavi Hernandez believes his passing style became “pure survival” due to his lack of pace and technique and that Ernesto Valverde has ‘revitalised’ Barcelona.

“Barca don’t play football, they play a different sport,” he told La Vanguardia.

“Except for Guardiola and City, there’s no other team that are so neat and have been for so many years.

“Barca always choose the difficult route, which is also the most fulfilling if you win. Even the goalkeeper has to choose which player he passes to.

“Barca take space and time into account. Draw or lose, they’re daring. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the long ball and the pursuit of failure, which rejects the idea of controlling a game.

“Neymar? It was like a dagger. He influenced Barca’s game. With him, you didn’t need 30 passes to get to goal. It was right to take advantage of his quality.

“Valverde? He sips from the Barca model 100 per cent. He’s revitalised their style. The positional game has regained importance and Messi is the one that causes chaos for their opponents.

“The wide players also have a bigger role to play as they attack the space now. There’s also Paulinho coming from behind…

“Messi? Leo can do whatever he wants. Look at how he always wins the ball when he goes to dispossess his opponent.

“He’s the total footballer, the best in history, a wonder. He was the perfect winger and now he does everything through the middle.

“The team look for him. He touches more ball than ever. On top of all that, he’s a good guy. His behaviour on and off the pitch is exemplary.

“My style of play? It’s pure survival. I try to control space and time. I wasn’t skilful or strong, so I’d lose out whenever I faced an opponent.

“Turning myself around, I gained time on the ball, raised my head and saw which teammates I could pass to.

“I’m a passer. I compensated for my slowness by trying to be the quickest mentally. I started doing it as a child and owe it to La Masia.” 

Tags Ernesto Valverde Xavi Hernandez