Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has said he wants to take inspiration from the club’s record-breaking women’s side when they host Sevilla on Sunday with the chance to move second in LaLiga.

Xavi was in attendance at Camp Nou on Wednesday, sat with former teammate Carles Puyol, as a world-record crowd for a women’s game of 91,553 watched Barca beat Real Madrid 5-2 to reach the semifinal of the Women’s Champions League.

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“I really enjoyed it,” the Barca coach said in a news conference on Saturday. “It gave me goosebumps. The atmosphere was spectacular. They deserved it.

“What I experienced really moved me. I hope it’s the same [on Sunday against Sevilla] for us. From the first day I’ve been here, the fans have responded.”

While Barca’s men have won just one Copa del Rey trophy during the last two seasons, the women’s side have enjoyed unprecedented success.

They beat Villarreal 6-1 on Saturday to make it 26 wins from 26 league games having already wrapped up the title and won the Spanish Supercopa.

With the Champions League and the Copa de la Reina still to play for, they could end the campaign with four trophies, one more than they won last year.

“I have a good relationship with Alexia [Putellas] and Aitana [Bonmati],” Xavi added. “I sent them both messages in the week after the game.

“[Coach] Jonatan Giraldez’s approach is really good. Their model of play has been sustaining the club. During the [last few] years, the women’s team has been an example.

“They compete well, they win… I was moved the other day at Camp Nou. It was an important step, but it can’t end there. Camp Nou has to be full again for the semifinal [against Wolfsburg].”

Under Xavi, Barca’s men are finally taking steps towards mirroring the women’s team. They have risen from ninth to third in the league since he took over and will leapfrog Sevilla if they beat them this weekend.

Barca’s title hopes were even given life before the international break with a 4-0 Clasico win over Madrid, but they remain 12 points behind the leaders, albeit with a game in hand. Madrid travel to Celta Vigo on Saturday.

“The Sevilla game is another final,” Xavi said. “It’s a big test and a chance to move second after a good run of results. We will also have an eye on events in Vigo, but I prefer to focus on what we must do. If there’s good news [with Madrid dropping points], it will be an extra motivation for us.

“The message to the squad is clear: the win over Madrid was only worth three points. We cannot relax. We want to finish as high as possible in LaLiga and go far in the Europa League.”

Barca will be without Luuk de Jong against Sevilla after the forward tested positive for COVID-19, while Sergi Roberto, Sergino Dest, Samuel Umtiti and Ansu Fati are all injured. Ansu has returned to training, but Xavi said he is not ready for competitive action yet.

Meanwhile, Xavi urged the club to renew the contracts of Gavi and Ronald Araujo, with both players’ deals up in 2023.

“They’re really important players,” he said. “The club cannot allow either of them to leave. I think their renewals are a question of time. I want to believe they will both reach an agreement and stay. I am optimistic.”



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