Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona’s coach, had the last laugh on Tuesday as his team defied critics by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years.

Barcelona secured a 3-1 home victory over Napoli, advancing 4-2 on aggregate in the round of 16. The five-time Champions League winners had struggled in recent seasons, failing to progress past the group stage in the last two years and being eliminated in the round of 16 in 2020/21.

Currently third in LaLiga, eight points behind leaders Real Madrid, Barcelona has faced consistency issues this season. Xavi announced in January that he would leave the club at the end of the season.

“We’ve faced unjust criticism. There’s been too much pressure on the players, with ultimatums, life or death situations. I even read that we were the joke of the Champions League. And now?” questioned the coach at the end of the match.

Xavi had said before the game that the second leg of the last 16 was the most important game of the season for Barcelona.

“We had to be better than Napoli and we were, it’s a more than deserved qualification, it’s one of my best moments as Barcelona coach. We can be proud because we’re one of the eight best teams in Europe.”

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