Xavi labelled Gerard Pique a “Barca legend” after the defender played his final game at Camp Nou before retirement.
Barcelona’s 2-0 home win against Almeria on Saturday was Pique’s last outing at the famous stadium prior to hanging up his boots, with second-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong sealing the victory, making up for Robert Lewandowski missing an early penalty.
An emotional Pique was substituted in the 84th minute, receiving a standing ovation from the 92,605 fans in attendance and hugging each of his team-mates as he went off for the final time.
Speaking after the game, Xavi praised his former team-mate, with the Barca head coach saying: “He had a great game, we wanted to send him off in the best possible way.
“The bigger the game for him, the better he performed. I have already told him that he is a Barca legend and we are very thankful.”
Xavi also mentioned the “beautiful” reception Pique received, though pointed out that some fans had recently not been as kind to the player, whistling in displeasure at him during the 3-0 win against Villarreal last month.
“Everything is beautiful today,” he added. “The game, the performance, which was phenomenal. The tribute to Pique… We have to reconsider many times when we whistle at footballers. That doesn’t add up.
“What adds up is this, 15 days ago there was whistling [at Pique]. He deserves this farewell. We have to realise that whistling doesn’t help.”
Appropriately for Pique, it was another clean sheet, meaning Barca have only conceded in one of their last 12 league games, which was the 3-1 defeat in El Clasico at Real Madrid, the only LaLiga game they have not won in that period.
4 –have won 11/13 games in 22/23 conceding just 4 goals, equalling the lowest tally in goals conceded at this stage of the competition in the top-flight (also 4 by Atlético de Madrid in 1995/96). Secured.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose)
Barca have conceded just four goals after 13 league games, equalling the lowest tally conceded at this stage of the competition in the top-flight (also four by Atletico Madrid in 1995-96).
Xavi was satisfied with the points that send Barca back to the top of LaLiga ahead of Madrid’s trip to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, but felt they could have scored more after having 27 shots, the most they have managed in a league game this season.
“It was a complete match,” he said. “I think the result could have been greater, it did not reflect the superiority of the team, but it gives us three points to continue in the fight.”