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Xavi calls on Barcelona to tighten up in title defence


Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez is confident his side can close the gap on LaLiga’s leaders but will need to cut out the errors.

Last season’s champions are nine points off the top after winning just one of their last four games in the competition.

Barca are currently third, trailing second-placed Real Madrid by seven points with Girona – who beat their Catalan rivals earlier this month – leading the way.

Xavi told reporters at a press conference: “The conviction in both areas is marking our season a little and that is what needs to be fixed and improved to be competitive in all competitions.

“Yes, I see it as recoverable but, of course, we have to be competitive rather than fail ourselves. In the end, what is costing us is our mistakes.”

Barca were held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia in their last outing but will be expected to get back to winning ways as they host bottom side Almeria – who are yet to win a game – on Wednesday.

Xavi said: “It is a very important game for us. We need a victory for the feelings of confidence, three points and to continue believing.

“There is still the league. There are still mathematical possibilities to win it. It has become difficult for us, but we have to go step by step and tomorrow is an important step.

“We have been playing good football but we need to win games. We need the fans and need to play that complete game that we have been missing until now.”

Xavi also gave his thoughts on his side being drawn against Serie A winners Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Like Barca, Napoli are finding defending their crown tough going.

“We are playing against the current Italian champions and I think it’ll be difficult,” said Xavi. “I think we have a 50 per cent chance because they are in a similar situation to our own.”

Despite their predicament, Almeria, who are eight points from safety, are hoping to make life difficult for the champions.

Head coach Gaizka Garitano, whose team claimed a goalless draw with Mallorca in their last outing, said: “We’ve competed on pitches where it’s very difficult to win.

“We’re going to go all out to obtain a good result with courage and desire to compete but, if we don’t give 100 per cent, they can hurt us.”





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