Xavi defends victory in Copa del Rey Clásico
Barcelona beat Real Madrid in their Copa del Rey Clásico, but Barça boss Xavi still finds himself having to defend the team’s victory.
Though Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey Clásico on Thursday, their manager Xavi Hernández still finds himself defending the victory.
Barça’s lowest time of possession
Throughout the game, Barcelona had just 35.3% possession, their lowest figure in any game since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. That left Xavi feeling a little bittersweet, as he wished for his team to not only win, but also dominate the game - a tough thing to do if you don’t have control of the ball.
Xavi actually said the initial plan was to “have long possessions, win duels, and play in Madrid’s half, dominate with the ball”. Instead, the Barça bunch was forced to defend.
“Our opponents made us play this way,” said Xavi. “We are usually better, with more possession, we don’t usually lose the ball this often.”
“They have put us under pressure all the time,” he continued. “They beat us in physical duels and we played against three defenders in Nacho, Antonio Rudiger, and Eder Militao, who are difficult to win a duel against, who are dominant physically. They dragged us into this type of game. We have not gone against any of our principles. They simply made us play like that.”
Check out what Real Madrid boss had to say about the game: “Lucky” Barça “didn’t deserve to win, it’s obvious”
Xavi did mention that he thinks Real Madrid are still the favorites to win, but he gave his own team praise for their defensive work. Madrid had the control nearly the whole game, but were never able to create serious chances.
“We were extraordinary defending without the ball,” said Xavi. “Defending is part of the game, that’s why the win is very important. It was a tremendous victory. Today we minimized Madrid. They only had one chance through Rodrygo.”
Though they secured the victory and there were some things to be proud of, in general, Xavi left disappointed.
“We weren’t neat on the ball, we also lacked pace,” he said. “Today we can’t boast about how.”
Next up for Barcelona and Real Madrid
Barça is in first place in the LaLiga standings with a seven-point lead over second-place Real Madrid. They will face Valencia on Sunday, a team fighting to stay relevant in last place.
Real Madrid will face fifth-place Real Betis on Sunday. Depending on the results of these two games, Madrid could inch closer to Barcelona’s top spot at the table.