After a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, Barcelona manager Xavi admitted that he is having difficulty motivating his players.
Barcelona have lost 1-0 games to both Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano since being knocked out of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt at Camp Nou, allowing them to fall back into a race for a place in La Liga’s top four.
They are still in second position, but they are only two points ahead of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and six points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis, whom Xavi’s side will encounter next month.
Xavi acknowledged after the loss that he is having trouble getting his team to match their enthusiasm levels from earlier in his reign.
“As a coach, I made a mistake, and now it’s here: I’m unable to urge the players to change the game.”
I assumed we’d come out fired up during my halftime team meeting, but it cost us in the first half. In the second, we were different, but it didn’t work out.
“Mistakes are unforgivable. We must be critical of ourselves. It’s a fact of life for us. It’s up to us to match our competitor’s passion.
“We were looking forward to a successful run in the Europa League. Fighting for second place for a club like Barça is not very inspiring right now, but we must improve.”
Xavi was anxious to emphasise to his players that they cannot afford to become complacent at this stage of the season, with Champions League qualifying still hanging in the balance.
“A lot is still on the line,” he remarked. “We’ve discussed it with the team, and we’re going to put all we’ve got into the next five games. It will have an impact on the following year. It’s all to play for in the Champions League.
“It is past time for us to come together and take a step forward. When you win, everything is wonderful, but it is in the tougher circumstances that you see who people actually are.”