Xavi slams 'crazy' decision not to postpone Barca's Mallorca trip

By Sports Desk January 01, 2022

Xavi believes forcing Barcelona to play Real Mallorca on Sunday is "crazy" due to the Blaugrana's 17 first-team absences.

Barca were hit with a spate of COVID-19 cases during the winter break, with as many as 10 players testing positive for the illness.

One of those – Samuel Umtiti – has since returned a negative test meaning he is technically available for Sunday's trip, though he is not deemed match fit after being unable to train in the past week.

Additionally, Xavi is without five players through injury; Sergio Busquets is suspended; Yusuf Demir is negotiating his departure; and Ferran Torres, who is injured anyway, cannot be registered until Monday at the earliest.

While postponements have become commonplace in other competitions, such as the Premier League, regulations in LaLiga make such situations much rarer.

Teams will still have to play so long as they have 13 available players from their first and second teams. Clubs must continue to adhere to the rule that dictates a minimum of seven players registered to the senior team are on the pitch at the same time.

But that minimum can drop to five players if teams have fewer than seven professionals available for selection – essentially, as long as Barca can name five first-team players in a starting XI, their games will not be postponed, much to the frustration of Xavi.

"It makes no sense to play tomorrow," Xavi told reporters in Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"We are in an extreme situation. We have between 17-18 casualties, it depends on Umtiti, who today has tested negative but has not trained for a week.

"It's a time to suspend the game. In this way [not postponing the game], the competition is adulterated, it is crazy to play like this.

"We have no choice but to compete with who we have. Mallorca has also asked for it [the game to be postponed].

"We must appeal to common sense. It's not a complaint, it's a reality. Basketball has been suspended.

"We will play if LaLiga forces us. We've trained well, but it's a chaotic situation. Be that as it may, we will go out to compete and try to win."

Barca head into their first game of 2022 seventh in LaLiga, 18 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.

Related items

  • Wales boss Page: Bale move to Cardiff would 'tick all the boxes' Wales boss Page: Bale move to Cardiff would 'tick all the boxes'

    Gareth Bale returning to Cardiff to play for his hometown club "ticks all the boxes" according to Wales boss Robert Page.

    Bale's contract at Real Madrid will expire at the end of this season, with only two games remaining for Los Blancos – Friday's home game against Real Betis to end the LaLiga season, before next Saturday's Champions League final with Liverpool.

    While speculation around a potential retirement should Wales fail to qualify for the World Cup persists, he would likely need to find a new club in the event they progress past Scotland or Ukraine in June's playoff.

    In response to rumours of a move to Cardiff for Bale, Page asserted that is simply feels right but respects his captain's right to make his own decisions after the playoff.

    "It ticks all the boxes," he said. "Ultimately, it's Gareth's decision and Cardiff City's.

    "I think he's right to say 'Let's throw full focus on to the fifth [of June]. Let's get there first and have that discussion.

    "We can carry on talking about it and guess, have our opinion, and it does make sense. It makes a lot of sense. He can base himself at a training ground he's familiar with."

    Bale has made a solitary appearance in LaLiga since February, coming on as a substitute late in the second half of Real Madrid's win over Getafe in April.

    He has been sidelined with back problems since, with Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti even revealing it immobilised him at times.

    The 32-year-old was named in Wales' 27-man squad for the June window, which includes four Nations League games, but could join camp if he is not named in Madrid's Champions League final squad.

    "We will keep in touch with him," Page said. "It's common sense that if he is not going to feature at all, and Real Madrid are happy with releasing him, then of course we would like him on camp.

    “They don’t have to. We don’t have the players [officially] until the 30th, so we can’t pull rank on that.

    “We just have to go with what they suggest. Rightly so because he’s employed by the club, but if there’s an opportunity to get players in earlier then we would like that.”

  • Vlahovic pledges to 'become a champion' at Juventus Vlahovic pledges to 'become a champion' at Juventus

    Dusan Vlahovic pledged to improve on his first half-season with Juventus and "become a champion" as the Bianconeri prepare to end their Serie A campaign against his former club Fiorentina.

    Vlahovic joined Massimiliano Allegri's side in a €70million move in January after scoring 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances for Vincenzo Italiano's men this season, adding a further seven in 14 league appearances for the Old Lady since arriving in Turin.

    The striker became the joint-highest scoring Serbian player in Serie A history in Monday's 2-2 draw with Lazio (51 – level with Dejan Stankovic), while one more league goal would make him just the second player aged under 23 years old to hit 25 in a Serie A season in 60 years – the other being Ronaldo for Inter in 1997-98.

    However, Vlahovic has struggled to match his Fiorentina form during Juventus' frustrating end to the campaign, averaging a league goal every 151.86 minutes for Juve as opposed to every 109.47 minutes for his former club.

    Juventus are guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A for a second consecutive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns, and lost the Coppa Italia final to rivals Inter this month.

    But Vlahovic remains happy with his decision to move to Turin and sees room for improvement moving forward.

    Speaking at the Turin book fair, Vlahovic was asked about former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli labelling him a "true champion" recently, replying: "I would like to say, speaking of myself as a champion... I don't like it. There is a long way to go, to work. I will give my all and I hope I will become a champion.

    "I like Juve's DNA, this desire to fight and not give up, to go over the limit, until the end. 

    "I am a bit like that too. I like working, above all because when I stop playing, even if it's early, I don't want to have regrets. I want to give everything, I don't want to have regrets. 

    "This is my job, I am privileged and I don't see why it should be different. You can always do better. Even when you have done something extraordinary, you must be aware and satisfied, without exaggerating."

    Juventus can end this Serie A campaign with a maximum of 73 points, guaranteeing their worst such return since the 2010-11 campaign (58 points, under Luigi Delneri).

    The Bianconeri's hopes of a successful campaign suffered a huge blow when Italy's Euro 2020 star Federico Chiesa suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

    Vlahovic played with Chiesa at Fiorentina and cannot wait to see the winger return to full fitness next term as he looks to rekindle their on-pitch relationship.

    "He saw me grow up as a kid," he said of Chiesa. "We shared three years at Fiorentina, luckily we're together again. 

    "He got injured when I arrived, I hope he'll be back as soon as possible. We hope to find our understanding on the pitch, which has remained from Florence. 

    "I can't wait to play with him, to take the field and fight with him and win together."

  • Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery

    Aaron Ramsey has the character to put his penalty miss in Rangers' Europa League final shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt behind him, according to Wales boss Rob Page.

    The on-loan Juventus midfielder, brought on in the second half of extra time, missed the only spot-kick as Frankfurt prevailed 5-4 in a game that finished level at 1-1 in Seville on Wednesday.

    It marked the first time Rangers had tasted defeat on penalties in European competition since the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup when losing to Borussia Dortmund in the last 32.

    Ramsey was visibly upset after Rafael Borre converted the decisive penalty for Frankfurt, who are the first German team to win the UEFA Cup or Europa League since Schalke in 1996-97.

    But Page insists he has no worries about selecting the 31-year-old to take a penalty should Wales' upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine go the distance.

    "I have no doubt whatsoever that if it comes to penalties that he will take one," Page said at a news conference on Thursday after naming his 27-man squad for that June 5 showdown in Cardiff.

    Asked if he still has faith in Ramsey, Page said: "Absolutely, 100 per cent. It happens to the best in the world. Top players, they put themselves up.

    "I am so proud of him for putting himself up [to take a penalty]. He is a world-class footballer. He had the courage and conviction to take a penalty. Top players recover from that, no problem."

    Ramsey is part of Wales' latest squad, as is Gareth Bale, who will become a free agent when his Real Madrid contract expires in the coming weeks.

    Bale's agent this week suggested a return to English football is the most likely option, with the forward aiming to keep fit ahead of November's World Cup should Wales qualify for the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

    "I think everybody is probably thinking the same thing about his future," Page said. "It will depend on how results go with regards to what he does next season with a club.

    "The only person who can answer that is Gareth. All I know is whenever he turns up for us he is first class. The full focus on himself is winning this game against Ukraine or Scotland, so he can worry about that after."

    Bale has started just four games for Madrid in all competitions this season and has not been part of their matchday squad for any of their past five games because of a back problem.

    The Wales skipper is back in training, however, and Page expects him to be part of Los Blancos' squad for next week's Champions League final against Liverpool in Paris.

    "I think Gareth puts himself when he is fit to be available for Real Madrid like he does with us," Page said. "It is down to the manager then whether he wants to select him or not in the squad. 

    "I think he is confident he will be involved and we will wait and see whether he is involved. We will then get him in camp as soon as we can."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.