FC Barcelona stands as an iconic symbol of excellence. With an illustrious history and a trophy cabinet that glistens with glory, the Catalan giants have consistently dominated the domestic scene. However, there’s a competition that has eluded them for far too long: the UEFA Champions League.
Under the astute guidance of their new coach, Xavi Hernandez, Barca is gearing up to embark on a journey of redemption in the 2023–2024 Champions League season. After clinching their 27th La Liga title last season, Barcelona has not only maintained their domestic prowess but has significantly bolstered their squad with acquisitions like Joao Cancelo, Joao Felix, and Ilkay Gundogan.
Xavi’s ambitions for Barcelona in the Champions League
As Xavi asserted in a recent press conference, “It’s time to take a step forward in the Champions League.” He went on to emphasize that the objective is not just participation but dominance. Barcelona’s goal is clear: to secure the top spot in their group, ensuring they are seeded in the knockout phase draw. For Barca, this isn’t a matter of mere words; it’s about translating their performances into tangible results.
Reflecting on the previous season, Xavi candidly admitted that the team’s performances on the pitch were commendable, but the results were far from satisfactory. It’s evident that Barcelona is not content with just playing well; they are determined to win. Last season’s failure to advance past the group stage and subsequent relegation to the Europa League served as a wake-up call.
Barcelona’s group in this year’s Champions League consists of tough opponents: Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto, in addition to their opening match against Belgian champions Royal Antwerp. These fixtures will test Barcelona’s mettle, but they are ready to embrace the challenge.
In La Liga, Barcelona has made a strong start to their title defense, securing four wins and a draw in their initial fixtures. Currently sitting second in the league, just two points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona is carrying its domestic form into Europe.
Starting their Champions League campaign at home is a significant advantage for Barcelona. Playing at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys while Camp Nou undergoes renovations couldn’t have come at a better time. The passionate support of their fans is a force to be reckoned with.
Xavi also provided updates on the injury front. Ronald Araujo, the Uruguayan defender, and Pedri, the Spanish central midfielder, have been nursing injuries. Xavi emphasized that while they could have rushed their return for the Antwerp match, caution prevails. He expressed hope that they would be fit to face Celta Vigo in La Liga on Saturday.