Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Wednesday he hopes a potential Spanish Super Cup triumph can create an important turning point in his team’s season again.
The Spanish champions are languishing in third place in La Liga, seven points behind leaders Real Madrid and Girona at the halfway point.
Barcelona face Osasuna in Riyadh in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals on Thursday, ahead of a potential showdown against Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in Sunday’s final.
Barcelona, record 14-time Spanish Super Cup winners, lifted the trophy last season in Saudi Arabia, their first silverware under Xavi, and it was a key moment to prove his project was progressing.
“I hope (it can be a turning point), I hope we find consistency,” Xavi told a news conference.
“We respect Osasuna a lot, evidently we are favourites — it’s win or lose, a knock-out game, we need to show that we want to be in the final.
“Last year it was perfect for us, it gave us confidence and stability.”
After returning to Spain last season the Catalans went on to win 10 of their next 11 league games on their way towards lifting La Liga.
Defender Ronald Araujo also believes winning the Super Cup again could prove important in Barca’s bid to turn around a disappointing campaign so far.
“Last year the Super Cup was a turning point, we want it to be the same this year — it’s a trophy and we want to win it,” said the Uruguayan centre-back.
Defensively the Catalans have struggled this year which is in stark contrast to last season’s Liga success which was based on their superb back-line.
Barcelona have conceded 22 goals in La Liga at the halfway stage of the season after shipping only 20 in the whole of the 2022-23 campaign.
“(We need) to be more effective in both boxes, in defence and attack, to concede fewer goals,” continued Araujo.
“We’re working to correct errors in defence, it’s something that helped us a lot last season, letting in few goals.”
Araujo has been linked with a transfer to German champions Bayern Munich in recent weeks in media reports, but said he was only thinking about Barcelona.
“Rumours always come out in transfer windows, I’m focused on Barca and I prove it every time I put this shirt on,” said the 24-year-old.
– ‘Something historic’ –
Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate was excited for his club’s first appearance in the competition.
“It’s something historic for the club,” said the coach.
“It’s a short competition with tough opponents, but we hope that we can win tomorrow.”
Arrasate said even though Barcelona were not at their best, Xavi’s side had to be respected.
“In these games they grow, and they are the reigning champions,” he added.
“I want to win tomorrow and to win we have to see the best Osasuna possible, to try and touch perfection, to make Barcelona uncomfortable.
“Let’s think that tomorrow could be a magical night.”
Both Arrasate and Osasuna defender David Garcia said they were disappointed many of the club’s fans could not make the trip out to Saudi Arabia.
“It’s what upsets me the most, not to be able to have all the ‘Rojillos’ in the stands,” said Garcia.
“I hope to be able to earn them a victory and to be able to compete in the final.”
Real Madrid face Atletico on Wednesday in the first Super Cup semi-final.