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Lopetegui: This is one of the best Barcelona sides in a long time

Barcelona may be struggling to rediscover their form this season, but Julen Lopetegui has claimed that this Blaugrana side are one of the finest in a long time.

The Sevilla coach was full of praise for the current Barcelona squad, and Xavi Hernandez's work so far, ahead of the LaLiga Santander duel between the two sides on Tuesday at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

"We had a tough game very recently, and now a tougher one awaits us with a much improved opponent, one of the best Barcelona sides in a long time with the emergence of footballers who are difficult to see at other teams, young, but very good, plus the return to action of others such as [Ousmane] Dembele," Lopetegui told the press.

"We expect a very powerful, very complex Barcelona, with the clear touch that Xavi has given them. Barcelona were superior to Elche and the result [3-2 win for the Blaugrana] did not reflect what we saw on the pitch.

"They are a solid team in many aspects, they have clear concepts and they will force us to do many things well on an attacking and defensive level, but always with enthusiasm. They are opponents who are on the rise, made to fight for everything."

Lopetegui refused to compare Barcelona's performances under coach Ronald Koeman and their displays with Xavi in charge, but gave his take on the virtues of this team.

"I won't compare coaches or specific team moments," added Lopetegui.

"It's just that this Barcelona know what they are looking for and they do it with the right players. They have very young, but very capable, Spanish international players."

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