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FC Barcelona manager Xavi’s Copa del Rey post-match press conference

The Barça boss talked about Vinicius, the team’s defensive effort, Sergio Busquets, possession and more

"I still see Madrid as the favourites", said the Barça boss.

FC Barcelona manager Xavi Hernández sat down in front of the press after his side’s 0-1 win over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg. He talked about Vinicius, the team’s defensive effort, Sergio Busquets, possession and more. Read every word he had to say below:

Are you happy with the result?

I am satisfied with the work, with the generosity in defence. Madrid did not have clear chances until Rodrygo’s opportunity. It is true that we lacked having the ball in the opposite half of the pitch, that the forwards kept the ball more. But the people are supportive, generous in defensive work. They hardly had any clear chances, but we have to improve our game with the ball.

Does this change the situation?

It changes little. It’s a certain advantage and 0-1, but we’re going to have to compete against Madrid. The return leg, with our fans, will be positive. But I still see Madrid as a favourite. Now we have to think about Valencia and we have to enjoy the victory.

There has been tension.

Yes, but with respect and fair play from both teams.

Gavi and Carvajal during the Copa del Rey semi-final.
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Gavi and Carvajal during the Copa del Rey semi-final.PressinphotoGetty

You didn’t have a lot of the ball but played well in defence, was that the plan?

No, the plan was to have long stretches of possession and play in the opposition’s half, to dominate with the ball. But it’s Madrid that’s in front of you and these things happen, for example, in Europe. We always want to defend with the ball but sometimes you can’t. But it’s OK, Madrid hardly had any chances and that shows that, in defence, at least, we were extraordinary. Defending is part of the sport.

What would you have liked to see tonight?

We look to dominate through possession. We like to generate chances. Today’s game wasn’t what we wanted, what we expected, but it’s Real Madrid. How do you get the ball from Kroos and Modric? It’s very difficult. But, and I repeat, we were extraordinary in defence.

Does this increase the good feelings?

If we’d have lost it wouldn’t have changed much as there’s still another game. It makes you happy winning at the Bernabéu, of course, but there’s another game in April.

Do you have to know how to win games this way too? Because there will be people that say you betrayed the style...

It’s the opponent that makes you play like that. We weren’t accurate with the ball, but we’re talking about an opponent that presses you all game, that makes things difficult. We haven’t betrayed any style of play, it’s what they make you do. In this sport you have to know how to defend.

Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid) and Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona).
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Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid) and Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona).PressinphotoGetty

Why do you say Madrid are still the favourites?

Because they dominated the ball against us today. We couldn’t find solutions to their press and we could have perfectly well drawn the game. We won, but we defended well. Excellent.

Barça had 35% possession...

And as I said before, I’m not happy with how we played on the ball. They pushed us back into our own half and dominated us. But the team resisted well. That is not the percentage we look for. Today we have suffered a lot and players like Kessié and Busquets have finished the game really tired. But we have to value the effort.

Araújo managed to maintain Vinicius.

For me he’s one of the best defenders in the world. Marcos Alonso and Balde also had a great game. I’m very happy with the defensive work.

Sometimes is the opponents level not taken into account?

The thing is, for me, Madrid are the favourites in this semi-final. Yes, because they have a goof team but today we minimised their threat. Vinicius, who normally has 6 or 7 chances, didn’t have any. They are the League and European champions, you have to value nights like these.