Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández has said the club are not in crisis following a week of criticism after defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
The unexpected loss to Shakhtar in Hamburg followed what Xavi conceded was an “unacceptable” performance against Real Sociedad, despite winning 1-0, and a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Clásico.
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“This is not comparable. This is not a crisis. I have been through some terrible crises here and this is not one,” Xavi told a news conference on Saturday.
However, Xavi accepted Barça must improve on the pitch and said that, as a former player and fan of the club, the criticism affects him even more.
“I have dealt with criticism [from the media] all my life,” he added. “You almost get used to it. This is Barça and you have to accept it.
“We have played poorly in the last two games and we have to be honest. We have not been good enough or at the level of expectations.
“It affects me three times as much because I am a fan. When the team wins, I enjoy it three times as much, but when we don’t and there is criticism, I suffer three times as much at home with my family.”
Despite the loss to Shakhtar, Barça remain well-placed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, while they go into the weekend’s fixtures just four points behind LaLiga leaders Girona and two off Madrid.
Midfielder Gavi will miss the Alavés game at the Olympic Stadium through suspension, while Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto are still injured, with Xavi calling for a reaction from his team.
“We have to improve our positional play, be better organised and play with the Barça identity,” Xavi said.
“When I have spoken about a mental block, that comes because we are not as organised on the pitch as before. So, the problem is more football-related than mental.
“We have spoken a lot. We have a very healthy dressing room. There is a hunger to win. The mental block comes because we are not well-positioned on pitch.”
Alavés ended a seven-game winless run in LaLiga last weekend to climb to 14th in the table. Coach Luis García expects a backlash from Barça after their midweek defeat.
“They’re going to come out at 1000%,” he said. “They are going to try and play their best game of the season. We will try and complicate things for them.”