Xavi: We are excited for the start of the tournament, the new format is different and difficult

Al-Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez expressed his confidence in his team, ahead of the upcoming Group D clash against Al-Ain on Matchday 3 of the AFC Champions League 2020.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Xavi said: “We are very excited to start. Al Sadd is at the top of the group. We have a lot of youngsters and experienced players as well. We are training well and we will forward to a strong start, in a competition that will be difficult for everyone.”

“I’m happy with what the team’s performance at the start of this season. In the last two editions of the Champions League, we reached the semi-finals, and everyone is dreaming of reaching the final. We are now playing at our home and this is good for us.”

As for the game, the coach said: “As I mentioned earlier, we are in a good period, but the Champions League is completely different and we will face Al Ain, which is also a different team from last season. They have a good coach and a lot of good local and foreign players, but we are ready to compete.”

Xavi added: ‪“I feel very good‬. I’m a positive guy‬.

We are winners‬, and we have many players who won many titles‬, but it doesn’t mean anything‬. I know everyone is excited‬ but we have to be calm, and go game by game, step by step.”

Regarding the change in the tournament format, Xavi said: “The tournament’s new format is totally different. There will be a single knockout game after the group stage. We must be careful. Everybody must be ready and recover very fast.”

“We play every three days and it’s tough for the players. But it’s good for the competition and the fans.

“We cannot rest too much between games, it’s tough but fair for all teams. We must focus and avoid mistakes.”

Asked about Akram Afif’s fitness, Xavi said: “All the players are ready, and Akram is in good condition. We are only missing Salem Al Hajri and Ali Asad, who need more time to recover from injury.”