Monday, August 19, 2013

Xavi: Barca didn't do tactics last year

The veteran praised Gerardo Martino, Sergio Busquets is enjoying the side's new tactics and Alexis Sanchez explained Lionel Messi's early withdrawal

Xavi has revealed that Barcelona rarely did tactical training last season and believes new coach Gerardo Martino's methods paid off in their 7-0 win over Levante on Sunday.

The Blaugrana began their season in style as goals from Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Xavi and Pedro propelled the reigning champions to the top of La Liga.

The veteran midfielder claimed that Tito Vilanova's time in New York recovering from cancer surgery affected their training but praised the hands-on approach that his

successor has taken since arriving in July.

"Last year we trained very little tactically when Tito was away," the 33-year-old told Mundo Deportivo after the match. "As a result, we missed our usual automatism.

"Martino is a serious and hard-working coach who is close to the players - everything we do is consensual. He has entered the team wary [of making too many changes].

"The coaches have always relied on me, respected any injuries I have had and I'm happy to play in this team all of my life."

Sergio Busquets was also keen to praise Martino, while revealing his satisfaction with the club's current tactics off the ball.

"Pressing the opposition greatly helps players who are in midfield because everyone is going forwards and can help us in retrieving the ball," he said.

"Last year was a tough season and we had many changes. We lacked the stability that we needed. Now the coach has tweaked tactical aspects and that makes us very comfortable."

Alexis, who opened the scoring, stressed the importance of taking his goalscoring form from pre-season into competitive matches while suggesting that Messi's early substitution made perfect sense.

"We're going all out to win. I'm being given a lot of encouragement and the game was very important for me.

"Things are going very well with Martino and this victory is a result of all the hard work we've been putting in over recent weeks.

"We have games close together at the moment, with one on Wednesday and another next Sunday, and we'll need Messi for all of them. He's going to be vital to us if we're going to win trophies this season."

Barca take on Atletico Madrid on Wednesday at the Vicente Calderon in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana before their first away game of La Liga against Malaga at the weekend.