Xavi Pascual, Manager of Barcelona Regal speaks on the challenges ahead for his team at Final Four.
Xavi Pascual, excited and motivated ahead of the Final Four, considers that the most important thing in the match against Olympiacos in the semis is to “not lose our identity”. He praised the power of the Greek side, a team he defined as “very complete and uncomfortable”. “We’re going into the final phase on good form. Our feeling is that we’re in optimal shape to play in the decisive match against Olympiacos. The most important thing is to never lose our identity, or the path we’ve followed to get here – it’s very easy to end up disorientated. Olympiacos work really well as a group, with specifically designed roles, and they know that they can create chances and score from them. My feeling is that this is end-all-be-all, the Euroleague is the most important title.”
The manager Xavi Pascual held a pre-Final Four press conference ahead of his team’s trip to Istanbul. It will be Barça Regal’s third appearance in four years in the final phase of the competition. The manager defined the challenge that his team will face in the following way: “We’re very excited to play this week, it’s the culmination of months of work – it gives us great pleasure to participate.” He added, “we’re going into the final phase on good form. Our feeling is that we’re in optimal shape to play in the decisive match against Olympiacos. We’re sufficiently prepared, we’ll see what happens afterward.”
On his personal experience in the tournament, he said: “it’s a feat to be in three out of the last four Final Fours. It’s strange, it’s every year’s objective to get here and all of the sudden it’s not if you don’t make it. The pressure is always high in this Club, we’re not going to Istanbul to see what happens, we’re going with the goal of winning it.”
Pascual indicated the key points his team must be aware of in order to succeed in Turkey: “The most important thing is to never lose our identity, or the path we’ve followed to get here – it’s very easy to end up disorientated. We have to solely focus on Olympiacos, we have to forget about which team is favoured and occupy ourselves with the things we can control, which is this Friday’s match. We also have to apply all the work we’ve done to our game and not allow our emotions to get the best of us. Coming into the Final Four on form is fundamental. We have to be plugged in from the start, fighting back is very difficult.”
The manager considers that “all the teams have a 50% chance” of going through to the next round and he denies that the Greek side are an inferior team. The manager went on to praise Barça Regal’s rival: “they work really well as a group, with specifically designed roles, and they know that they can create chances and score from them. Their offence and defence is very well balanced, they never stop running and they have excellent players. They have a very complete team, very uncomfortable [to play against].” Pascual highlighted both the fact that Olympiacos have a good mix of young and veteran players, and the Greek side’s positive records in both the Euroleague and the Greek league. According to the manager, “Olympiacos attempt to control the rhythm of the match and they look to score in the final seconds of possession – they’re very good at it.”
Pascual also noted the rest the Greek team have enjoyed ahead of this Friday’s match in Turkey and of that his team also have an appearance in the ACB’s play-offs, which start immediately after the Final Four tournament. “Whoever has 15 days to prepare for the match, coming into it, are favourites. We’re accustomed to the demands of a league like the ACB. The teams coming from here [ACB] are always at a disadvantage,” said the manager with an air of resignation. He added: “after the Final Four we know that we’ll have to change our ‘chip’ [focus], and that won’t be easy – regardless if we win or lose.”
Text and Photographs courtesy of FC Barcelona Regal