Xavi wants Barcelona to carry 'extraordinary' form into second half of La Liga season

Catalans lead the division on 50 points at the halfway stage with Sevilla the visitors to Camp Nou up next

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Barcelona welcome Sevilla to Camp Nou on Sunday night with coach Xavi hoping his side can extend their "extraordinary" form of the first half of the season into the second.

The Catalans lead reigning champions Real Madrid by five points La Liga having reached the milestone of 50 points at the halfway stage of the season.

Only two sides have reached 100 points in the Spanish league's history, Real Madrid in the 2011/12 season and Barcelona the following year.

It is the fifth time Barcelona have earned that many points at this point of a campaign and four times they went on to lift the title.

"I don't like drawing conclusions halfway through the season, everything can still be turned on its head," Xavi said after an impressive midweek win at Real Betis.

"We have to match this first half. We are on a good path, but there are 19 more games to go — the numbers [so far] are extraordinary."

Barca's impressive first half of the campaign has been built on a watertight defence, conceding just seven goals all season in the top flight, with new arrivals Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen key.

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has returned to his best form too, making the Catalans Europe's meanest defence across the top five leagues.

By contrast opponents Sevilla are having their worst season for some time, although the roots of revival under Jorge Sampaoli are finally growing.

The Andalusians, 13th, have won three of their past four league games, after only two victories in their first 15.

Without injured winger Ousmane Dembele, Barca still earned a 2-1 win at Real Betis to hit 50 points.

Dembele's replacement, Raphinha, netted the opening goal, after a clever quickly-taken free-kick by Frenkie de Jong.

Xavi said the goal demonstrated his team was mentally ready to succeed this season.

"It's about attitude, competitiveness, desire, faith, our hopes are huge," added the coach.

"We have confidence and the morale to achieve success."

The Blaugrana are boosted by Robert Lewandowski's return from suspension, with the Polish forward scoring his 14th league goal of the season against Betis.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 8:42 AM