Xavi says win over PSG proves Barca can still compete with Europe's best clubs


Xavi Hernandez of Barcelone in action during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes on April 10, 2024 in Paris, France.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez praised his side's 3-2 win away against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, insisting it showed the Catalans can once again compete with the very best teams in Europe.

"We had time to prepare for this game and everything turned out very well, in defense and in attack," Xavi said after substitute Andreas Christensen's 77th-minute header gave Barca the victory at the Parc des Princes. "We are proud of the team. Paris played very well, but we kept their threat to a minimum."

Raphinha gave the visitors the lead at halftime, only for PSG to turn the game on its head with goals by Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha in the first six minutes of the second half.

Raphinha, however, volleyed in a Pedri pass to equalize before Christensen's winner.

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"It is a great victory against one of the best teams in the world," added Xavi, whose side is unbeaten in the 12 games since he announced he would depart at the end of the season. "It is very difficult to defend against this team because of how they press you, but we did it very well.

"We are only halfway there, though, and it will be very difficult in Barcelona."

A Spanish side was also victorious in the night's other first-leg match, with Atletico Madrid striking twice in a dominant first half and surviving a late rally from Borussia Dortmund before earning a 2-1 win.

Barcelona is appearing in the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2020, when it lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in Lisbon, and for the first time since Lionel Messi left the club.

It is Barca's first away win in the knockout phase of the Champion's League since 2019.

"The players believe in themselves," Xavi said as he looked ahead to the return match at Montjuic next Tuesday.

"They have this opportunity, and if they play in the same way they will get chances. Nothing is done but we can be proud. This match shows that Barca are very much alive."

It was a disappointing night for PSG, with Kylian Mbappe for once failing to deliver in a big occasion.

He scored a hat trick during the French club's last visit to Barcelona in the competition in 2021, though, and coach Luis Enrique is optimistic PSG can still progress.

"Congratulations to Barca for the victory," he said after PSG suffered its first defeat since losing 2-1 away to AC Milan in the group stage in early November. "I think we could have got a different result but we accept the scoreline tonight and are focused on turning it around.

"I have no doubt that we can turn it around and that we will. That is my objective.

"We have not lost away from home in the league this season. We have six days until this game. Away goals no longer count and that helps us in this case.

"We could have won this game. I am not saying the result is unfair but it came down to little details and we will work to ensure that in the return the little details go in our favor."

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