Xavi says Ousmane Dembele has changed his mindset to explore the form he has displayed at Barcelona this season.
Barça advanced to the semi-finals of the Spanish King’s Cup thanks to Dembele’s goal that beat Real Sociedad 1-0 at Camp Nou in the second half and the dismissal of La Real midfielder Brais Mendez at the end of the first half.
Dembele attempted 11 dribbles during the match, equaling the highest total points scored by a French winger against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League this season by a Barça player.
Speaking to the press after the win, Xavi said that filling Dembele with confidence was the biggest difference from the player he inherited when he took over the club in November 2021.
“The only thing we give Ousmane is trust. I believe in him very much,” said the Barca head coach.
“I always think that he can produce a lot for us. I see the faces of the guards and they suffer. The only thing that had to change was the decision he made at the last moment.”
“I am very happy for him that he scored the winning goal. I think he is enjoying it and has managed to turn his situation around.”
“We’re trying to guide Dembele to make the best decision on the pitch. I see tremendous conditions for him and he remains one of the best in his position.
“At Barça you have to have the ability to change your mindset and believe in that and I think he’s successful at this stage. I see him very happy.”
Dembele has been involved in 15 goals (eight goals, seven assists) for Blaugrana this season and has already equaled his last season’s record (two goals, 13 assists) while only Robert Lewandowski (27 – 22 goals and five assists). He is more among Barca players.
The hosts were indebted to Marc-Andre ter Stegen for making a vital save from Robert Navarro late, despite dominating most of the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
“The end game was complicated for us, Ter Stegen saved us,” Xavi added. “This is football and we have to learn but in the end we can’t suffer like this.
We dominated Real Sociedad with 11 points. [players], a team that has won nine games in a row. The emotions are very positive and we are where we want to be, but we want to increase our efficiency and finish games early.”
La Real boss Imanol Alguacil said he was “infuriated” by Mendez’s red card, suggesting that the player’s incident of grabbing Sergio Busquets’ ankle with his studs did not require a knockdown after the referee was shown a yellow card.
“I don’t like using the word pride because it means we lost,” he said. “But today the sending out affected us… I think we should value the effort of the team, because we had very clear situations and we competed even if one player was missing.
“The draw was much closer than 2-0 in the last 10 minutes.”