Aubameyang

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a gift that dropped from the sky after the former Arsenal striker’s sixth goal for the club helped seal a 4-0 win against Osasuna on Sunday.

Aubameyang, 32, added the third goal before half-time at Camp Nou after Ferran Torres had scored twice. Substitute Riqui Puig completed the scoring after the break as Barca cut the gap on second placed Sevilla to five points with a game in hand.

Barca have now scored four goals in four of their last nine games, leaving behind the problems they encountered in front of goal in the first half of the season. January signings Aubameyang, Torres and Adama Traore have helped transform their attack.

“Aubameyang is a present that has fallen out of the sky,” Xavi said in a news conference of the forward, who joined on a free transfer after Arsenal agreed to terminate his contract.

“It’s not just [the goals], it’s how he trains and his professionalism. He’s an example, [all the players] are.”

Torres, a €55 million signing from Manchester City, opened the scoring from the penalty spot against Osasuna and added the second after good work from Ousmane Dembele. The Spain international has been criticised for his finishing since joining Barca but he now has five goals for the club.

“I said that the goals would come for Ferran,” Xavi added. “He’s scored goals wherever he’s been: Valencia, City and with the national team. It was just a matter of time. I’m delighted with how he’s doing.”

Xavi also praised the third member of Sunday’s front three, Dembele. The winger has been jeered in recent weeks following a standoff over his contract renewal, with his terms up in June, but he’s won supporters back around with assists, including two more against Osasuna.

“If you perform you make people happy,” Xavi said. “The fans can see that he’s giving everything for Barca and you can’t deceive the supporters. He was great today.”

Barca are riding a wave of euphoria following a run of positive results under Xavi. They were ninth in LaLiga when the former midfielder took over but are now third, unbeaten in 12 league games and closing in on Sevilla, who drew this weekend.

However, they are still 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who they meet in the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday (U.S. audiences can stream Real Madrid vs. Barcelona LIVE on ESPN+).

“Winning LaLiga is very difficult, even if we beat Madrid,” Xavi said. “Mainly because Madrid aren’t slipping up. They have only lost twice. They would have to drop points four times, so we can’t be too optimistic.

“But the sensations are really good. If we can put this intensity into every game then we can compete against anyone. Everyone is enjoying themselves and that can be difficult in modern day football.

“We improved our ball circulation and added that intensity [that was missing] from Thursday’s goalless draw against Galatasaray. The win gives us a lot of confidence.”

Before the Clasico, Barca travel to Istanbul on Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie against Galatasaray.

Xavi confirmed defender Gerard Pique will be available for the game despite coming off with a thigh problem.

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