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Xavi plans surprises in Barcelona XI

Xavi Hernandez will kick off his reign as Barcelona head coach on Saturday night as his team host Espanyol in the Catalan derby at the Camp Nou, and he has hinted that there could be some surprise choices in his first line-up.

Some players in the Barcelona squad now have the chance to start afresh under Xavi, while the Blaugrana need a quick upturn in performances as they currently sit in ninth spot, 11 points off league leaders Real Sociedad.

"We'll see who plays. We will train later. I haven't decided on the eleven and I put a lot of importance on training," Xavi said during Friday's pre-match press conference.

"My impression of the younger players is good. We don't have Ansu [Fati] or [Ousmane] Dembele, Martin [Braithwaite] or Kun [Aguero]. We will have to use youngsters, but they are ready.

"There might be some surprises. I'll see when I watch the training session this evening."

In terms of how he thinks the Catalan derby against Espanyol, Xavi is optimistic.

"I am very calm. Positive. Happy and excited. I'm very excited to be at the place I consider my home," he noted.

"Less nervous than when I was a footballer. The hardest thing is to be a footballer and to do things on the pitch."

Gavi shone for Spain during the international break and it's clear that the new Barcelona boss has big hopes for the 17-year-old.

"We'll see. He is a good wildcard, who can play in many positions," Xavi commented.

"He is very versatile and very key. He's very young, but he's made a difference in big games."

Dani Alves

Barcelona announced the signing of Dani Alves on November 12 and his return has generated a lot of excitement amongst the club's supporters, despite now being 38 years of age and unable to play until January.

"He is going to add a lot to everything for us. He has character, he is a winner and he gives us spirit," Xavi stated.

"We didn't sign him randomly. We've seen his games and he's physically fit. In terms of link-up play, he's one of the best I've seen in my career. The pity is that he can't play until January."

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