“Dreaming is free so why can’t we win?” – Xavi says Barcelona can be Champions League kings again

Xavi believes Barcelona can end an eight-year wait for Champions League glory this season as he told his players to ‘dream’ about lifting the trophy.

The head coach sends his side to Wednesday’s opener against Viktoria Pilsen to avoid a repeat of last season’s group stage elimination.

Barcelona finished behind Bayern Munich and Benfica, with Xavi appointed midway through that group campaign after Ronald Koeman was sacked.

Major damage had been done by a 3-0 defeat at Benfica and Xavi failed to pull Barcelona through to the knockout rounds.

However, he’s had two busy transfer windows since then and Barcelona are a revamped and refreshed team with much of their former baggage shaken off.

Last season’s failure in Europe inevitably hurt more when Barcelona’s great rivals Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the final, but Xavi is looking to move on.

“The main goal now is to get through the group stage,” said Xavi, “then we’ll see.

“Dreaming is free, why can’t we win this competition? But we have to start getting the three points tomorrow.”

Xavi came on as a substitute in the 2014/15 Champions League final as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Now directing things from the touchline, he’s hesitant to predict how Barcelona will fare but says there’s no harm in aiming high.

“We’re going to come out and dream of winning the Champions League, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” said Xavi. “I want to win. We have to be very humble. We haven’t won the Champions League since 2015 and last year we went to the Europa League.

“You have to remember that every game will be a war. We had a very difficult group.”

With Bayern and Inter alongside Barcelona and Pilsen in Group C, Xavi’s remark certainly bears scrutiny. Even if things don’t go that way, Pilsen will be seen as the team that the big three have to beat before they take the top spots.

Xavi spoke highly of Pilsen’s counter-attacking qualities but anything less than three points at the Camp Nou would be a huge disappointment.

“This is the Champions League and we want to start well. It’s the most difficult group in recent years but we want to progress and reach the last 16,” said Xavi.

The Barcelona coach will rely on Robert Lewandowski to guide the Catalans to the knockout rounds following his previous success for Bayern in the competition.

Lewandowski has scored more goals than any other player in the Champions League over the last three seasons, with 33 goals in 26 games.

Should he score against Pilsen, he would be only the third player to score for both Barcelona and Bayern in this competition, after Mark van Bommel and Philippe Coutinho.

Lewandowski scored nine goals in five home games for Bayern in the past Champions League season, which could bode well for Wednesday.

Xavi will be without Miralem Pjanic, the midfielder joining Sharjah FC and set to make changes to the side that beat Sevilla 3-0 in LaLiga on Saturday.

“There will be a rotation,” Xavi said, confirming the likes of Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati could be promoted from their reserve roles at the weekend. “There is tiredness and uneasiness. The game against Sevilla was a war.

“Let’s compete in the Champions League and dream of winning it. In our history we have won it five times. We will try to get as far as possible.”

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