Barca manager Xavi tells players Bayern are no 'house of horrors'

Xavi Hernandez during the training before the Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen, in Barcelona, on 06th September 2022.

Barcelona are visiting Allianz Arena to play against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League game on Tuesday. In their previous six games there, the Spanish powerhouse never won against their German opponent with two draws and four losses, including the last 3-0 loss on December 8 last year.

Xavi Hernandez, manager of Barca, said at the press conference on Monday that their poor record at Allianz Arena won't scare him or the franchise.

"I wouldn't say it's a house of horror, it's Bayern Munich," Xavi said. "I've experienced both sides of the coin, beating them and losing to them. I know [recent results have not been favorable], but football is cyclical."

"It's true we have never won here, which shows the difficulty of this week's game. But we are in good form and we are excited for Tuesday," he added.

Barca are currently second on La Liga standings table after finishing their first five games with four wins and one draw in the 2022-23 season. They lead in scoring (15 goals) with Real Madrid and allowed the fewest goals (one) among all 20 clubs.

By contrast, Bayern had one of the worst starts in Bundesliga in decades after failing to win the past three games (three straight draws). Their offense seemed good in general with the league-leading 19 goals, but the German giants were having trouble cracking solid defense when their opponents invested their best efforts in it.

“Everything is different. We have improved in many aspects and we feel capable of competing,” Xavi said. “There have been so many changes but above all I would say the mentality. After that defeat, I told the players that this is Barca, that we have to run, work hard, and show personality. It was not the image of Barca that we wanted. The mentality has now changed. We have more personality now. The signings have also had an affect and wins breed confidence.”

One of the signings Barca made that mattered the most was Robert Lewandowski, who departed Bayern this summer after making an ugly transfer soap opera. The 34-year-old Polish striker currently leads La Liga in scoring with six goals. He also had a hat trick in the Champions League 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen.

“Robert is fine. He’s relaxed, calm, confident. He is a natural leader for the team. It’s a special game for him and he is really motivated,” Xavi said. “He rested at the weekend so he’s fresh and he is in good form. Obviously, Robert is one of our arms in attack, but we have other players, too, and we want to show that on Tuesday.”

Though Lewandowski didn’t leave Bayern on the best terms, manager Julian Nagelsmann still hopes fans can give him a warm reception at Allianz Arena.

“I will be happy if our fans give him a good reception. That would be normal when someone has done so much for the club,” Nagelsmann said. “He was an important part of the Bayern family. I am looking forward to seeing him again. We spoke a couple of weeks ago, not about football, but it will be nice to see him in person.”

“For the past 10 days, Sadio [Mane] has been having fun telling me not to pass the ball to Lewy by accident,” Thomas Muller, who had been teamamtes with Lewandowski in Bayern for eight years, said at a press conference. “We have to play our game, but we can’t let Lewy play his game. He’s a top striker, he’s dangerous in or close to the box. We have to stop him from getting into shooting positions.”

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