- Spain legend Xavi talks Qatar 2022, South Africa 2010 reminiscences and extra
- Xavi has lived, coached and performed in Qatar for a number of years
- “Football culture is growing at a tremendous speed in Qatar”
Xavi sits amongst the pantheon of nice soccer technicians in the fashionable period. The midfield maestro was an integral determine as Spain received an unprecedented treble topped by a maiden FIFA World Cup™ win in 2010, sandwiched both aspect of UEFA EURO triumphs.
After a wonderful profession with Barcelona, Xavi efficiently transitioned to teaching with a profitable spell at Qatar heavyweights Al Sadd.
Having lived in Qatar for a number of years, Xavi talks completely about why the 2022 World Cup will probably be a memorable expertise on and off the area, his reminiscences of South Africa 2010, the principal contenders to win Qatar 2022 and far more.
Who do you see as the present favourites for the event in 2022? Are there any groups below the radar that would have a large affect?
Xavi: I’m actually wanting ahead to the World Cup in Qatar in two years’ time. It is shaping as much as be a actually thrilling event and plenty of groups will go there with the perception that they’ll win it. It was nice to see Spain play rather well once more in latest internationals – I believe the staff has returned to a excessive stage and can go to the EUROs after which the World Cup in 2022 with a lot of confidence.
The European nations are wanting very robust at the second. It is unimaginable to select a favorite, however France will probably be going to Qatar as the reigning champions and can consider their squad is robust sufficient to defend the title – they’ve so many thrilling gamers, together with match-winners like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Croatia ought to all be very aggressive too and will probably be very tough groups to beat – so I wouldn’t write any of them off at this stage. When you have a look at South America, Brazil and Argentina at all times go into the competitors pondering they’ll win and each can have robust squads, with gamers like Neymar and Lionel Messi main the method for a few of the youthful gamers coming via. Uruguay, Colombia and Chile are additionally greater than able to competing with the greatest groups in the world and getting a end result. Let’s see who qualifies however I believe it is going to be a very open event which can make it a nice spectacle.
Having lived in Qatar for the previous few years, and seeing the progress right here first-hand, I’m actually excited to see the host nation compete at the event. Not solely has a big quantity of funding gone in direction of growing prime-class services and stadiums to host the event, however a big quantity of labor has gone into growing a nationwide staff able to competing on the greatest stage with the world’s greatest groups. The new technology of gamers coming via in Qatar are bettering a lot and with the present charge of growth and having lately received the Asian Cup, I believe Qatar can compete very properly at their first World Cup. Football tradition is rising at a great velocity right here and I believe the World Cup will assist take the sport to the subsequent stage, not solely in Qatar however in the entire Arab area.
You moved to Qatar again in 2015 to play for Al Sadd. From your expertise, what can followers travelling to the FIFA World Cup in 2022 anticipate after they attain the host nation?
Excitement is basically beginning to construct right here in Qatar for 2022. The nation has promised to placed on a spectacular present for soccer followers and having seen the progress since I moved right here in 2015 on every little thing from the stadiums to lodging, I’ve each confidence that it is going to be an unbelievable event for each gamers and followers.
When you stroll round Doha and meet the locals, it’s clear that individuals right here are actually obsessed with soccer. I didn’t actually know what to anticipate once I first moved right here because it was a utterly new expertise for me, leaving Barça after 25 years, to go to a new a part of the world with a totally different tradition and traditions that I used to be accustomed to in Catalonia. But I need to admit that I like virtually every little thing about dwelling in Qatar. The climate is superb with sunshine nearly every single day and it’s a very enjoyable place to work as the individuals are actually respectful and pleasant. It’s additionally a very secure nation with little or no crime so is a great spot to boost a younger household.
I believe followers can have a nice expertise right here. The stadiums are tremendous spectacular and have been constructed to make sure the very best fan expertise, so the environment inside the grounds must be unbelievable.
Away from the soccer it is going to be a likelihood for followers to expertise a entire new a part of the world and tradition. It has superb seashore inns, a lot of beautiful eating places and buying malls, and the fan zones will probably be a great spot for followers from throughout the world to collect for a drink and soak in the environment, so I believe followers travelling to Qatar can have a nice expertise in 2022.
Spain’s World Cup profitable staff in 2010 was distinctive. What are the key traits that made that group of gamers so particular?
I used to be very fortunate to be a part of a particular technology of gamers. Not solely did we win the World Cup, however we additionally received the European Championship twice in a row. I believe the principal traits that outlined these profitable groups was that we had a very humble and trustworthy group of gamers that labored very arduous for one another. Everyone was there for the group and did every little thing they may for the better good of the staff. It was additionally a profitable staff on an incredible run which meant we performed with the confidence that we might win each recreation.
The coaches additionally did a lot for us. Luis Aragones introduced the core group collectively initially, and Vincente del Bosque continued his work, and was somebody who actually bought the greatest from the expertise we had in Spain at the moment. It was a technology with a lot of expertise and Del Bosque gave us the confidence to exit and play a fashion of soccer that allowed us to dominate video games and was thrilling to look at. I believe that’s what individuals will bear in mind about that period.
2020 is the tenth anniversary of Spain’s victory in South Africa. What’s the first reminiscence or picture that involves thoughts, at any time when anyone mentions that World Cup?
Many spectacular reminiscences come to thoughts. It’s been ten years since the victory in South Africa, nevertheless it looks like yesterday. That feeling of figuring out you have made historical past is unbelievable. I bear in mind the celebrations vividly, having the cup in our possession and travelling on a convertible bus via Madrid. The pleasure that the victory delivered to everybody in Spain was immense and it’s one thing that may stay in my reminiscence for the remainder of my life. After you win the World Cup, you are a world champion forever, no person can take that away from you. It is spectacular what we had been capable of obtain, so it makes me very pleased and proud to recollect these moments.
Perfect matches most likely don’t exist as there’s at all times one thing to enhance. However, if you had to decide on a match in the 2010 World Cup when Spain’s efficiency was at its greatest, which one wouldn’t it be, and why?
I believe the greatest recreation we performed in 2010 was the semi-closing towards Germany. Germany had a very comparable philosophy to ours, of wanting the ball, of dominating the recreation, of occurring the assault. I believe we each performed a comparable fashion in that recreation and on the day, we had been higher than them. In the closing we suffered a bit extra as a result of we got here up towards a very robust and aggressive Dutch staff that would not allow us to play. On the different hand, Germany needed to play us at our personal recreation and on the day, we had been the superior staff.
Spain based mostly its domination on ball possession. Football is evolving to a recreation the place bodily power and velocity in transitions are essential. Could a staff taking part in the method Spain did in 2010, in your opinion, win the World Cup in 2022?
I’m satisfied that the staff that has extra possession of the ball and goes on the assault extra usually has a higher likelihood of profitable than a staff that defends. I’m satisfied as a result of I lived it that method as a participant and achieved success in the recreation following that mannequin. In the finish, the staff that goes on the assault, the one who shoots the most, the one who’s closest to the opposition’s objective, is the one with the greatest likelihood of profitable. It does not assure it, however I believe the statistics are of their favour. So sure, I consider a staff might win the 2022 World Cup by taking part in a possession-based mostly recreation at a excessive tempo.
In soccer, I consider there are two kinds of coaches, those that need to defend and those that need to assault. For me it’s clear which is my most well-liked philosophy. As a coach, I need my staff to have the ball, I need to assault. I need to play in the opposition’s half of the pitch. I need my gamers to place a lot of strain on the opposition to make sure the ball is in our possession the majority of the time. I consider a lot of issues have improved in the fashionable recreation and naturally there may be a large emphasis on issues like the velocity of transitions and the bodily power of gamers, however in the finish, I consider it’s the most gifted and skilful staff that may prevail in the recreation.