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"We can go to Munich and win" - Xavi claims Barcelona's performance against Benfica has made him 'optimistic' about beating Bayern Munich

Xavi was encouraged by Barcelona's performance when they played Benfica
Xavi was encouraged by Barcelona's performance when they played Benfica
Caleb Kay
CONTRIBUTOR

New Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is confident that the Catalans can beat Bayern Munich in their final Group E match of the Champions League.

Barca needed a win to guarantee entry into the last 16. However, they will have themselves to blame after enjoying the lion's share of the proceedings and failing to capitalize on their advantage.

They had more shots, 14, to Benfica's seven, but it's telling of their woeful form in front of goal that both teams registered the same number of shots on target (3).

Brutal 😳 Barcelona draws 0-0 against Benfica😬 https://t.co/NnN7WvYa9X

They now sit second in the group with seven points, two ahead of Benfica. Bayern have 15 and Dynamo Kiev are bottom with a single point. Barcelona will need to win in Bavaria to proceed to the next stage. If Benfica defeat Dynamo Kiev, then the Blaugrana will be relegated to the Europa League.

How it played out

17-year-old Gavi had Barca fans on their feet in the 25th minute after a clever Nico Gonzalez pass four yards from the opposition keeper. The Spaniard, however, punted a wayward shot into the stands and would have been relieved to see the offside flag already up.

Another youngster, Yusuf Demir, 18, also tested Benfica's keeper a few times before hitting the upright. Araujo did manage to finally find the net but was adjudged to have scored while offside.

In total, Barcelona had eight offside calls to Benfica's three.

Depay, playing as a striker, was flanked by young La Masia graduates Nico and Gavi. It's a far cry from the Barca of yesteryear synonymous with the MSN strike force.

Ibrahimovic, Etoo, Ronaldinho, Thiery Henry, Munir El Haddadi, Malcolm, Henrik Larsson, Pedro and Bojan were all once attacking calling cards when Xavi was still a Barcelona player.

But the coach was probably perturbed that when he looked to inject some urgency up front, as he only had Ousman Dembele as the most viable option to call on. It's no secret that the Frenchman has yet to live up to the hype that saw Barcelona splash a reported £135m on him.

He will also be aware that his team is lucky to still be in the competition. They were only saved the blushes when Benfica substitute Haris Seferovic pulled off a miss of the century in added time to ensure a goalless draw.

Benfica's manager Jorge Jesus is not happy about Haris Seferovic's big stoppage time miss against Barcelona 😡 https://t.co/12tBP3caYg

The striker had superbly rounded Ter Stegen and a defender but could not manage to roll the ball into an empty net in what his coach, Jorge Jesus, described as "the worst miss he's seen in 30 years".

Reaction from Barcelona coach

Xavi Hernandez Unveiled As New FC Barcelona FC Head Coach
Xavi Hernandez Unveiled As New FC Barcelona FC Head Coach

It is understandable that Xavi cut a forlorn figure on the touchline but none of that showed when he spoke to the media after the game.

"We were far superior to Benfica and we played a great game, we only missed the goal," Xavi told reporters. "If we had scored, we would be talking about a great game."

"I'm still optimistic. We're Barca, we have talent and players to make a difference. But today we added one point and that's not Barca worthy."

"Today we have seen that there is no physical issue.

The last two meetings between Barcelona and Bayern Munich have ended 8-2 and 3-0 in favor of the German giants but the coach is confident that Barcelona will come out on top on December, 8 2021.

When asked about the chances of defeating the Bavarians to advance to the last 16 the Catalan added:

"What makes me most optimistic is seeing the team playing in this way."

"Playing like this we can compete with anyone. Seeing what I've seen [against Benfica], we can go to Munich and win. The positive news is we still depend on ourselves."

"We have to restore the confidence of the players that score goals. I'm not just talking about the forwards, either, but the midfielders that arrive from deep as well."

Barcelona have sadly lost Sergio Aguero to an unfortunate heart complication. They now have the uphill task of finding their shooting boots for the Munich trip in what certainly feels like Deja vu.


Edited by Rohit Mishra
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