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Barcelona have a 'psychological issue', says coach Xavi

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Barcelona, Dec 12 (IANS) After the group stage exit from the Champions League, FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez has admitted that the team has a ‘psychological issue’ at the moment and that is affecting performances.

“It is a psychological issue rather than a football one. They have to believe it and that is my job. We are encouraging them to dare and be brave. At Barcelona, it’s not worth playing 6/10 or 7/10. You have to aim for excellence. This is what is missing. Courage, aiming high and not low because that is not what Barcelona does. Being brave and understanding the game, we are not that far from what we want,” the Barca manager said.

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Xavi was brought in to replace Ronald Koeman in November after one of the clu’s most tumultuous periods in its history, with Lionel Messi leaving in the wake of Barca’s financial crisis. After a torrid period under Koeman, Xavi looked to be turning a corner with Barcelona notching up two wins and a draw in his first three games.

But things have started to fall apart once again, with Barca losing 1-0 at home to Real Betis in LaLiga before being hammered in a limp 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich that saw Xavi’s side crash embarrassingly out of the Champions League.

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While reports have suggested plans for a total overhaul of the squad – with underperforming stars such as Frenkie De Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Sergino Dest on the transfer list — Xavi insisted the issue was not with the talent in his squad.

“The squad has the level to compete and win titles. In the Bayern game there was also a psychological aspect, but also (a sign that) habits have been lost,” he said.

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–IANS

inj/bsk

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