Barcelona boss Xavi urges Fati to step up as Lewandowski misses out

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Xavi has challenged Ansu Fati to prove he can be a leader for Barcelona while suspended striker Robert Lewandowski waits to return.

Fati only played the closing moments of Barcelona's 3-1 Supercopa de Espana final win over Real Madrid last Sunday as the club landed their first trophy since Lionel Messi left in August 2021. It was Xavi's first trophy as Barcelona coach.

The 20-year-old Fati was a substitute again for the Copa del Rey win over Ceuta on Thursday, coming on to score the third goal in a 5-0 rout.

His bit-part role is something Fati may have to accept given Lewandowski is a seemingly guaranteed starter when available to head coach Xavi. This weekend sees Lewandowski serve the second part of a three-game ban.

Gavi, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele have featured off the Polish striker, with Raphinha and Ferran Torres also getting chances.

Now it seems Fati may get to start against Getafe in LaLiga on Sunday, with Xavi saying: "He plays a decisive role in the team. He makes a difference and has that great communion with the goal.

"He is decisive and is being important for the team, and more so in the games that Robert is not there due to suspension he has to be a reference."

Barcelona are on a high after the Supercopa success, with Xavi saying: "This victory against Madrid means a lot to us, it gives us confidence and morale and makes us believe more.

"Now is the time to maintain our level and compete and fight for the three remaining titles."

They have LaLiga, the Copa del Rey and the Europa League still to play for, having been knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage, with Xavi determined to wring everything out of his players.

"You have to keep demanding and even increase the demands," the coach said. "Now it's easy to relax, and you have to avoid that and make everyone feel important.

"You can play better. The game against Madrid was excellent and brilliant, but you have to keep up the level."

Xavi said there are fitness concerns over Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong ahead of Getafe's visit to Camp Nou.

"They're available, but they're having problems again," Xavi said. "We can't play with players who are at 80 per cent. Every game is a war, it's a final."

Barcelona headed into the weekend with a three-point lead over Madrid at the top of the table, also knowing they had not lost at home in their 17 previous games against Getafe (W13 D4).

The Catalan giants no longer have Memphis Depay in their ranks after he made a move to Atletico Madrid this week, with the Dutch forward having told Xavi he was "not comfortable" and needed to play more often.

Xavi is unsure whether he will be able to make signings before the January transfer window closes given financial fair play limitations, but he said it "wouldn't be a problem" if there is no further movement on that front.