FC Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has criticized his team for not knowing how to kill games off and addressed a penalty taker bust-up between Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres following a 1-0 win over Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barca extended their lead to 10 points at the La Liga summit ahead of title race rivals Real Madrid taking on Real Betis in the late night game in Spain.
Going ahead thanks to a Raphinha header on 15 minutes, however, the Catalans labored without the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Ousmane Dembele and Robert Lewandowski while Xavi was also unable to lead his charges from the dugout because of a suspension picked up in last week’s defeat to Almeria.
A Ronald Araujo red card also complicated matters, but Xavi still thought his team should have put the game to bed sooner. Instead, they were forced to struggle with 10 men and keep the visitors at bay.
“It’s a shame because we could talk about comfortable victories. But the lack of effectiveness makes us suffer. We have a lot of injuries. It is time to suffer and that makes us grow,” Xavi said in his post-match interview, while also saying his side “have to learn to kill the game off”.
After a handball in the box saw a penalty awarded to the hosts, there was a clear row between Torres and Fati over who should take the spot kick that Torres eventually fluffed and hit the post with.
Xavi attempted to defuse the row by explaining that there is “an order that we communicate to the players”.
“[Franck] Kessie entered [the match], who could also take it. But on the list was Ferran. We decided among the staff. We try to guide them and I think we are growing since our arrival. We have a winning character and we have to continue like this,” Xavi demanded.
When it was pointed out that Raphinha encouraged Ansu to take the penalty kick, Xavi said: “It’s ok. You have to have personality and desire to shoot penalties. But we decide and we have an order.”
As for how he witnessed the game, Xavi said there are even more “nerves” watching the action from the stands.
“From above you see it better, but we suffered too much. We should have scored a second one earlier. The penalty, the shot that hit the post [by Fati]… And with Ronald’s expulsion we suffered more,” Xavi concluded on this.