Mark van Bommel striking moment with Xavi: “No, I didn’t ask him to take it easy, I would have done better”

“Oh well, me and Xavi are good friends,” said Van Bommel. “We had already spoken to each other before the match. At 2-0 there was a nice pass from Frenkie de Jong. That’s what I went to tell him. “You were good at the beginning,” he replied. No, I didn’t ask to take it easy. I might have done better.”

Xavi confirmed.

“Mark came up to me and talked about the match. I told him they had started well.”

Not angry

Now onto the match. And the feeling the Antwerp coach gets from it.

“No, I’m not angry,” he said immediately. “On the contrary. The first ten minutes were very good. You have to be super concentrated throughout the match. The smallest mistake is punished. You’ve seen that. I can’t blame the players. We were good on the ball, even the entire match. With courage. But you can’t miss a beat. They shoot on target three times in that initial phase and the goal is three times. That is their quality. They cut through the middle and from there they play out their individual qualities. But I don’t want to turn this into a negative story. We continued to play football. Once it’s 3-0, you know they can make it 4 and 5-0. We were skilled on the ball.”

Couldn’t Antwerp have offered more resistance?

“This is Champions League, top of Europe, top of the world. They have those little taps in between, drops, bounces, people walking,… That’s world class. That’s where we have to go. That’s the next step. But we are still far from it. That’s no shame. This is a big learning moment for us.”

After a pass from Frenkie de Jong, Van Bommel went to talk to Xavi — © REUTERS

Doesn’t stick around

It is logical that Van Bommel wants to quickly get over the heavy defeat, but the Antwerp players still spoke of a blow. The cloud they were sitting on was in danger of giving way.

“Oh, you know, the first match was the most difficult of the six, we knew that in advance. I don’t believe the repercussions of this will last long. It’s never fun when you lose 5-0, I know that. But we tried to play football. We played our own game. This is just a step in our development. We have young players and they have already experienced that. That is beautiful. They learn from that.”


Not prepared

It all came out so smoothly that it was as if he had prepared himself for the crash.

“No, I had not taken this into account. You have to put it in context. Make no doubt about it: Barcelona is a contender to win the Champions League. They can certainly reach the semi-finals. and even win. “

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