Barcelona boss Xavi insists “nothing has changed” regarding his future following rumours he could reverse his decision to depart the club in the summer.

The former Barca and Spain midfielder, who is preparing for Sunday’s LaLiga game at fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao, announced in late January he would leave his role at the end of the season.

Barcelona have picked up form since then, taking 13 points from a possible 15 to boost their faint hopes of overhauling leaders Real Madrid in the title race.

“As of today, nothing has changed,” Xavi told a press conference.

“There is no more story than that. It all remains the same and we focus on the next game.

“It’s true we’ve done well recently; I see the team training great every day and the group of players is less tense than in the past.

“But tomorrow is a whole new story, here at Barcelona you have a challenge every day.

“The moment of the truth this season is coming, and we feel we have been good over the last weeks.”

Third-placed Barcelona thrashed Getafe 4-0 last weekend to build on recent wins over Osasuna, Alaves and Celta Vigo and a 3-3 draw with Granada.

The Catalan club will return to San Mames just over five weeks after suffering a 4-2 extra-time loss to Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Xavi is braced for another tough test as his side seek to maintain momentum.

“Athletic is the most intense team in the league,” he said. “And they are confident.

“If we win, it will be a big step forward.

“It’s the perfect game to match them in intensity and rhythm. Against Getafe, we rediscovered our game. Against Athletic, we have to do the same.”

Barcelona remain without injured quartet Marcos Alonso, Alejandro Balde, Gavi and Ferran Torres for the visit to the Basque country.

Xavi also hailed his former team-mate Andres Iniesta during his pre-match press conference.

Iniesta, who scored Spain’s winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, made the 1,000th senior appearance of his career on Friday, playing for UAE-based side Emirates Club against Ajman.

“Iniesta is the greatest talent I’ve ever seen in Spanish football,” said Xavi. “A thousand games is many.

“I admire him and I love him very much, he is a great friend.”

Group H leaders Barcelona moved a step closer to reaching the Champions League knockout stages after a 2-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Barca made it three wins from as many matches through goals from Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez before they held on in the second half after Heorhiy Sudakov’s 62nd-minute strike.

Xavi’s men produced moments of quality with a rotated side ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico against Real Madrid at Nou Camp in LaLiga.

Barca nearly had a dream start after seven minutes. Oriol Romeu’s high press forced the turnover in Shakhtar’s box which allowed Lopez to jink inside and shoot, but the midfielder’s effort was kept out by Dmytro Riznyk.

Barca’s persistence paid off when they opened the scoring in the 28th minute through Torres.

Lopez picked up another dangerous position inside the box and his effort cannoned off the post into the path of Torres who smashed home.

VAR initially deemed the goal offside but the ruling was overturned after Lopez held his run long enough.

And the potent Lopez doubled Barca’s lead in the 36th minute in spectacular fashion.

The La Masia youth product marauded into the open space from midfield, beat his man with a feint before producing a rocket on his right foot which saw the ball smash off the post into the back of the net.

The goal, which was Lopez’s second of the season, was completely deserved after the 20-year-old dazzled in the first half under the lights at Nou Camp.

The LaLiga champions started where they left off in the second half and came close through Joao Felix, who was denied by Riznyk from a tight angle.

The visitors persisted in their plan of playing out from the back which encouraged blue and red shirts to swarm them in possession as they struggled to deal with the relentless Barca press.

But Shakhtar stunned Xavi’s men when they struck against the run of play to make it 2-1.

Felix lost possession and Shakhtar advanced into the Barca half through Irakli Azarovi who picked out the rapid Sudakov and he ghosted past Romeu and held his nerve with a blasted effort past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Moments after Lopez hit the post in the 68th minute, his headed effort was ruled offside as Barca tried for a third.

Barcelona boss Xavi insists his squad can cope with their growing injury list.

The Catalans visit Granada in LaLiga on Sunday boosted by back-to-back 1-0 wins over Sevilla and Porto.

Ferran Torres scored Barcelona’s Champions League winner in Portugal after replacing the injured Robert Lewandowski.

The Poland striker has joined Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Raphinha on the casualty list.

“We do have a rather small squad, but I would hardly say that we are plagued by injuries,” Xavi said at his pre-match press conference.

“We have players to compete. We hope to recover players in the upcoming games.

“Lewandowski is a big loss, he is our most differential player and a leader.

“But luckily the team has plenty of alternatives like Joao (Felix), Ferran and Fermin (Lopez) who knows what it is to play as a false nine.

“We already have plenty of cover in midfield and there is also new additions from the reserve team.”

Pau Victor and Marc Guiu have been called up for senior duty for the first time as Barcelona trail leaders Real Madrid by four points with a game in hand.

The international break also appears to have come at a good time to allow injured players the opportunity to get fit again.

Barcelona return to LaLiga action after the international break against Athletic Bilbao on October 22.

They then have a Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk before playing Real Madrid at home in El Clasico.

Xavi said: “Pedri is almost ready, and so are Robert and Frenkie. The team is playing well and our confidence has been boosted by two hard-fought wins.”

Barcelona struggled to control possession against Porto, and Xavi added: “I always want 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the ball.

“We need to dominate the control both in attack and defence.

“We face a difficult opponent, the most physical in La Liga, an opponent that will play a direct game with great offensive potential.

“We have to control their direct football. It’ll be hard to beat Paco Lopez’s team.

“There are games in which we have been good and others, not so much.

“We have to take better care of the ball, but the attitude and effort are spectacular.

“In Porto, we ran the most this season, in kilometres. That says it all about attitude.

“But our formula is to stick to the Barca philosophy. We always play attacking football, whether we have three forwards or not. We never change our philosophy.”

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