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Barca – Benfica: Xavi’s battle to the death

SpainBarca is second in Group E Champions League. They can win a place in the 1/8 round, but also face disaster if they lose to Benfica.

*Barca – Benfica: 3 a.m. Wednesday, November 24, Hanoi time.

Right in the first match leading Barca in the Champions League, Xavi was faced with a must-win situation despite being two points ahead of Benfica. The result of drawing or losing to Benfica will put Barca at high risk of being eliminated from the group stage, because they will have to meet Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the final round. Xavi’s army is difficult to earn points from Bayern at the moment, while Benfica has a great chance to get three more points when playing at home against Dynamo Kyiv.

Barca lost to Benfica 0-3 when as a guest in Lisbon on September 29, but the Camp Nou team has changed since then. The arrival of Xavi in ​​place of Ronald Koeman brought a new atmosphere in Barca. That is partly reflected in the victory against Espanyol on November 21. Teams tend to play more excitedly when changing coaches, and Barca can take advantage of that to win positive results against Benfica.

Xavi faced a big challenge in the second match to lead Barca. Photo: Reuters

Benfica has also changed since thrashing Barca at Da Luz. They won only two of the next seven games, including two in a row inevitable defeat to Bayern. Jorge Jesus’ teachers and students were able to regain their form with the last two victories in Primeira Liga, as a springboard to march to Barcelona.

The last time Barca was eliminated in the Champions League group stage was the 2000-2001 season, which is 21 years ago. In the first season without Lionel Messi after more than 15 years, Barca is in danger of ending the circuit to pass the group stage. The host’s strength is still superior to Benfica, but football is still a collective game and there is no guarantee that Xavi will win the second match with Barca.

Xavi is even more difficult when missing players like Martin Braithwaite, Pedri, Ansu Fati or Ousmane Dembele because of injury. He denied rumors that Sergio Aguero had to retire due to heart disease, but the Argentine striker has not yet been able to return to play. In the Catalonia derby, Nico Gonzalez, Oscar Mingueza and Sergio Busquets also have fitness problems and are not sure to play against Benfica.

On his debut, Xavi introduced 17-year-old striker Ilias Akhomach. But given the importance of the Champions League, he may return to using veterans like Philippe Coutinho. Defender Sergino Dest also returned to normal training, along with midfielder Ronald Araujo.

Benfica’s team situation is better, when Valentino Lazaro and Andre Almeida recover from injuries. Pillars like Joao Mario, Roman Yaremchuk and Pizzi could also return to the main lineup. Coach Jesus only lacks midfielder Nemanja Radonjic and midfielder Lucas Verissimo.

Xavi will not want to have to find a place to continue by defeating Bayern, so he will have to calculate to win Benfica at all costs. This is also a way for Barca to collect debt from the defeat in the match at the end of September.

Hoang An


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Barca wants to appoint a coach who won them 8-2

Radio Catalonia RAC1 revealed that President Joan Laporta wants to bring coach Hansi Flick to lead Barca from the 2021-2022 season.

Flick will leave Bayern at the end of this season and make a verbal contract to lead the German team after Euro 2020. Photo: Reuters

Laporta has called to talk to Flick about the possibility of leading Barca, when Ronald Koeman will almost certainly have to leave at the end of the season. After announcing his departure from Bayern, Flick made a verbal agreement with the German Football Federation (DFB) about leading this team to replace Joachim Low. But, the 56-year-old coach has not yet signed with the DFB, leading Laporta to believe he can change Flick’s mind.

Laporta considers Flick, not Xavi, a good candidate to replace Koeman. Presidential candidate Victor Font once promised to bring Xavi to lead Barca, but he could not beat Laporta in the election. Laporta’s side believes that this is not the right time to bring Xavi back from Al Sadd.

Laporta liked Flick in his intense play and football philosophy he applied to Bayern, helping them win the Champions League 2020. But, Laporta could hardly convince Flick to break his promise to DFB. Flick worked as Low’s assistant in the German team from 2006-2014, and he did not master Spanish to risk leading a club like Barca. A plus point for Barca is that they can treat Flick with a much higher salary than DFB.

Flick once led Bayern to defeat Barca 8-2 in the quarter-finals of the Champions League 2019-2020, just through one match. He then helped Bayern win the second treble in European football history, after Barca themselves in 2009. This season, Bayern only won the Bundesliga, and stopped in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Hoang An (according to the RAC1)