After the thrilling pre-season fixture between Barcelona and Arsenal, Barcelona’s head coach Xavi expressed his frustration with Arsenal’s approach to the game.
However, Arsenal’s manager, Mikel Arteta, responded fiercely to Xavi’s comments.
The match saw both teams showcase their attacking prowess, with goals from Robert Lewandowski and Bukayo Saka in the first half resulting in a 2-2 scoreline at halftime, with Raphinha and Kai Havertz also finding the net. In the second half, Arsenal made significant changes and started the brighter side.
Xavi criticized Arsenal’s tactics and game approach during the match, but Arteta did not take the criticism lightly.
The Arsenal manager hit back, defending his team’s performance and style of play during the pre-season fixture.
The heated exchange of words between the two managers has added an extra layer of intensity to their pre-season meeting and has caught the attention of fans and media alike.
Leandro Trossard bagged a brace in between Arsenal’s second-half changes to take the lead for the first time, though Arsenal target Ferran Torres closed the gap two minutes shy of the full-time whistle.
Just moments later, however, Fabio Vieira grabbed Arsenal’s fifth of the game to regain their two-goal advantage.
Check out the highlights below.
VIDEO: Arsenal 5-3 Barcelona highlights
Though, post-match, Xavi was not happy with the abnormal intensity Arsenal played at considering it was a friendly.
You can reach the comments from both coaches below…
Xavi bemoans about Arsenal’s intensity
🎙️ Xavi after losing 5-3 to Arsenal:
“We played our first friendly match and they played the Champions League final.” 🧂 pic.twitter.com/jxq8B1YRsP
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) July 27, 2023
Xavi has just lost his first fixture of your pre-season tour 5-3 and was clearly unhappy with how proceedings panned out.
As such, the former central midfielder, who has been in charge of his beloved club since 2021, made his feelings known.
“We played out first friendly match, and they played the Champions League final,” the Spanish legend said. “It was not normal for a friendly. But I understand everyone wants to win. For us, it was our first friendly, and we went into it off the back of loads of players having a bad bug.”
When quizzed if he found the intensity of the friendly surprising, he then said: “Not ours but Arsenal’s, yes. It is not normal to play with so much intensity, making tactical fouls. Everyone wants to compete but it is a friendly. They were playing with another level of intensity.”
Whether Xavi was genuinely displeased with his opponent’s approach or was just masking his anger with his own team is unknown.
The Spanish outfit were originally set up to play against Juventus to kick-start their pre-season friendlies as a significant part of their team had developed viral gastroenteritis.
Mikel Arteta’s response to Xavi’s comments
Mikel Arteta’s response to Xavi’s comments:
“At the end of the day, soccer belongs to the players.
“We’re playing in front of 70,000 people and as soon as the game starts they’ll rebel against the coaches as soon as the game starts and they’ll do what they want.” pic.twitter.com/zBzIL3gQ8y
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley) July 27, 2023
One man at the SoFi Stadium that was more pleased with the result was Arsenal’s very own Arteta as his roster of players ended their US tour with an emphatic win over the La Liga champions.
“At the end of the day, soccer belongs to the players,” the Arsenal boss said.
“We’re playing in front of 70,000 people and soon as the game starts, they’ll rebel against the coaches as soon as the game starts, and they’ll do what they want.”
Arsenal – and in particular Arteta – will thrive off the back of their victory against the European heavyweights, especially after losing 2-0 to Manchester United.
Those mistakes are now in the past as the Gunners look towards one final friendly against Monaco before competing with Manchester City, a side who pipped them to domestic glory last term, in the Community Shield.
Ronald Araujo’s challenges paint a different picture
However, as much as the Barca head honcho would like fans to feel sorry for them for Arsenal’s approach to a friendly, videos of Ronald Araujo’s tendency to fly into a reckless challenge every now and again have emerged.
Xavi: “The intensity of Arsenal was not normal. Lots of fouls for a friendly game.”
— Mikael Madridista (@MikaelMadridsta) July 27, 2023
Xavi: “El Arsenal le metió demasiada intensidad”.
La intensidad: pic.twitter.com/1ehZrmDwL5
— Jorge (@quillobarrios) July 27, 2023
After seeing the Uruguayan centre-back clatter both Kai Havertz andGabriel Jesuson separate occasions, it begs the question: ‘Why he was moaning in the first place?’
Araujo did receive a yellow card for his challenge on the German, though both tackles are arguably bookable offences and most likely would be in a competitive fixture.
What happened to it being just a friendly, Xavi?