Barcelona’s new coach, Xavi Hernandez, on Friday appealed to the fans to support the team that is preparing to play its first match under the leadership of the former Spanish international against local rivals Espanyol in the first division on Saturday.
Barcelona is ninth in the standings with 17 points, 10 points behind its eternal rivals Real Madrid and 11 points behind leaders Real Sociedad, and Xavi, who took over this month from Ronald Koeman, said the team desperately needs the support of the fans more than ever.
“I urge the fans to stand with us,” the former Barcelona midfielder said at a news conference on Friday. We will not give up and we will do our best. We ask you to support us.
The Camp Nou can accommodate more than 99,000 spectators, but Barcelona have struggled to attract fans in the midst of poor results this season, with about 37,000 spectators attending their match, which ended in a 1-1 draw with Alaves.
This was the lowest attendance rate for a league match in two decades.
“We need to be at the heart of one man,” added Xavi, who signed his new contract in front of thousands of the club’s fans earlier this month. If the masses supported us, as they did on the day I introduced the media, they would do me a great service.
Barcelona won a difficult 1-0 victory in the last match in which the two teams met in July 2020, and Xavi expected a difficult test against his opponent, who had been promoted to the top flight this season.
“There will be a lot of tension and we have to control our nerves,” Xavi said. I asked the players to be calm on the field because they will face a fully prepared opponent. I feel less nervous now as a coach than when I was on the court. I am not happy to return to my country and I am looking forward to playing this match.