Barcelona manager Xavi has confessed that he is struggling to motivate his squad after they extended their run of home defeats to three straight games with a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
After a 3-2 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at Camp Nou knocked them out of the Europa League, Barcelona have since fallen to 1-0 losses against both Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano, allowing themselves to slump back into a battle for a place in La Liga’s top four.
They remain in second, but Barcelona are just two points ahead of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and six clear of Real Betis in fifth – Xavi’s men will travel to face Betis next month.
After the defeat, Xavi admitted that he is finding it hard to get his squad to match their energy levels from earlier in his reign.
“I made a mistake as a coach and here it is, I haven’t been able to motivate the players to change the game. “During my half-time team talk, I thought that we would come out very psyched but it cost us in the first half. We were different in the second but it didn’t hit right.
“Mistakes cannot be repeated. We must be self-critical. It’s our reality. We have to match the desire, the desire of our rival.
“We were excited about a good run, with the good games in the Europa League. Now, it is not very motivating to fight for second place for a club like Barça, but we have to improve.”
Xavi was keen to stress to his players that they cannot afford to get complacent at this point in the season, with qualification for next year’s Champions League still very much in the balance.
“There is still a lot at stake,” he said. “We have spoken with the team and we have to put everything we have into these next five games. Next year depends on it. The Champions League is on the line.
“It is time to be united and take a step forward. Everything is very nice when you win, but it is in these tougher moments when you see who people truly are.”