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Xavi calls the Catalan derby a 'Litmus Test' for revived Barcelona

Sat 12 February 2022 | 15:29

When Barcelona goes to Espanyol, they will be looking for their first three consecutive LaLiga victories since April of last year.

Xavi feels that Sunday's Catalan derby against Espanyol will serve as a

"Litmus Test"

to see how far Barcelona has progressed. 

In last week's 4-2 triumph over Atletico Madrid, Barca played probably their best performance since Xavi succeeded Ronald Koeman three months ago. 

Following a 1-0 win against Granada, the Blaugrana have now won back-to-back

LaLiga

matches for only the second occasion this season, as they prepare to face Espanyol. 

They haven't won three matches in a row in the Spanish top tier since a streak of six between February and April last year.

Barcelona will visit the RCDE Stadium after a fruitful winter transfer window, returning to the top four with plenty of confidence. 

Xavi, on the other hand, feels that his team hasn't truly turned the page yet and that they need to win their next two away fixtures against Espanyol and Valencia to maintain their momentum continuing. 

"Sunday's match is another final for us," he said at a pre-match news conference. "It's a litmus test and it will be a very difficult game, very intense. They will want revenge.

"We're not ruling out any targets. Being 15 points behind the leaders, with a match in hand, shows how difficult it can be. It is difficult but we do not rule anything out. 

"The next few games will tell. We need several wins in a row and have to be consistent, while hoping those in front of us falter. We're fourth and we want to climb further."

Barcelona beat Espanyol 1-0 in Xavi's debut game in charge on November 20 thanks to Memphis Depay's penalty early in the second half. 

Barca have already gone 23 LaLiga matches without losing to their city adversaries, and they might set a new record for the longest undefeated streak in any sort of derby in the tournament's history.

Between 2000 and 2013, they went 23 games without losing against Atletico Madrid, a milestone they share with Real Madrid. 

The Blaugrana have also won seven of their last six LaLiga away matches against Espanyol (W7 D6), counting their 11 encounters at the RCDE Stadium. 

Xavi, however, is not taking anything for granted facing Espanyol, who are winless in four league games and now sit in 13th position.

"Things have changed since the last meeting," he said. "Tomorrow we face a tough and intense rival. This is one of the best Espanyol sides in recent years.

"It will be a similar game to the one at Camp Nou, but we've changed since then. We didn't have time to prepare for that game, but now we have.

"We've got to consolidate the very good things we did against Atletico. We're training well but everything depends on the results. We are on the right track."

 

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