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Xavi ‘punishing’ Barcelona squad after Espanyol draw

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Barcelona manager Xavi hauled his players in for an impromptu training session on New Year’s Day as a punishment for their 1-1 draw with Espanyol on Saturday.

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The Blaugrana had been due to take the day off but left Xavi furious with a bitterly disappointing draw against Catalan rivals Espanyol, whose only shot on target during the game was the second-half penalty from which they equalised.

There were a number of frustrating performances from the Barcelona squad, who were lethargic and uninspiring as they failed to make the most of their dominance with the ball, and they ended 2022 behind Real Madrid in the La Liga standings as a result.

SPORT note that Xavi opted to ‘punish’ his squad by bringing them in for a surprise training session on Sunday to warn the players that such a performance will not be tolerated again.

The boss is already believed to have threatened to cancel another scheduled day off on 6 January, King’s Day, if Barcelona don’t step things up in their Copa del Rey clash with Intercity on Wednesday.

Intercity are 16th in the third tier of Spanish football and drew 0-0 with Barça Atletic, the club’s reserve side, earlier this season.

Despite the gulf in quality between the two teams, it is understood that Xavi plans to deploy a strong lineup against Intercity to try and restore some confidence, with rests only coming after the job is done.

After the Intercity game, Xavi must prepare Barcelona for a trip to Atletico Madrid on Sunday, and the boss is not prepared to give his side a day off if they fail to assert their dominance in the Copa del Rey beforehand.

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