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Xavi proud to lead Barca back to Europe's top table
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Cian Cheesbrough
Xavi's hopes of Champions League glory in his final season at Barcelona are still alive
Xavi's hopes of Champions League glory in his final season at Barcelona are still alive

Xavi said Barcelona proved they can compete at the top of European football once again after beating Napoli to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Fermin Lopez, Joao Cancelo and Robert Lewandowski were on target in a 3-1 win over the Italian champions on home soil, progressing with a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Amir Rrahmani's 30th-minute goal to halve the deficit set up a nervy, back-and-forth encounter after Barca had raced into a 2-0 lead early on.

But Lewandowski found the net with seven minutes of normal time remaining to guide the Catalan giants to the last eight for the first time in four years.

The Spaniard, who will leave his role in the summer, said: "People didn't believe me. They said we would lose the dressing room.

"We received a lot of criticism and the team showed that it can compete in Europe.

"We are in the quarter-finals of UCL, after four years, in the top eight in the Champions League.

"The team has exhausted all its energy. I think we controlled the game in many moments.

"I have already said that they will take a step forward with my decision at the end of the season. And so it was, wasn't it?"

While Xavi's tenure is set to come to an end, he relied on the stars of the future to get the Blaugrana through, with 17-year-old defender Pau Cubarsi Paredes putting in a man-of-the-match display.

On the young star, the Barca boss said: "Cubarsi does not get nervous.

"He's very calm, his ball output is brutal, he generates attacking plays, he links up with interiors and forwards.

"It's a spectacle to watch him play."

The impressive victory has increased the calls for Xavi to reverse his decision to depart — a sentiment backed up by goalscorer Lopez, 20.

He said: "I hope Xavi can stay, we are with him until he wants to stay."


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