First team, English Press conferences

Xavi: “El Clásico is unpredictable, the favourite doesn’t always win”

Xavi Hernández before el Clásico in Saudi Arabia / RFEF

Xavi Hernández and captain Sergio Busquets spoke to the press before Wednesday’s Supercopa semi-final against Real Madrid in Saudi Arabia.

Tomorrow at 20:00 Spanish time, the Supercopa de España mini-tournament will start. This season’s edition will take place in Saudi Arabia. The first semi-final will be played between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh. The winner will face either Atlético Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final. Sergio Busquets and Xavi spoke to the media in today’s press conference, this is what manager Xavi had to say:

About tomorrow’s game:

“For us, it’s a challenge, an opportunity to play in a final and fight for a title, it’s an opportunity and it could be a turning point. We’ll try to control the game and defend well. Madrid is in very good condition, perhaps the best team in Spain now as the league table says. El Clásico is unpredictable, in my experience, we have to use our weapons and compete, we know we have ways of hurting them and we’ll fight to the end.”

“I have a lot of experience with playing in el Clásico. The favourite for the win hasn’t always won and vice versa. I see a Barça under construction, we’re trying to do things well and a Madrid in good shape but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s an unpredictable el Clásico, we’ll try to be ourselves, impose our way of playing and it won’t be easy because we’re facing the team that’s in the best form in Spain.”

About Ferran Torres, Pedri and Ansu Fati being ready for the game:

“It’s great news that both Ferran and Pedri are negative and can play. We’re still awaiting the registration of Ferran but it seems that it’ll be done shortly. There’s also Ansu. These players have to be dosed, maybe they can’t play every game but at certain times they can help us a lot, they’ll make a difference not only tomorrow.”

“We’ll see tomorrow, they’ll be important. They’ll surely have minutes, we’ll see how long they can play. We’re going to play with them, it’s not just about tomorrow, there are five more months of La Liga left and we don’t want to lose more players. You have to be smart and dose them well.”

About Ronald Araújo’s importance tomorrow:

“It’s not only about him, it’s a collective work. They (Real Madrid) are comfortable in the low block and from there they can activate counterattacks. We have to be ready for this. Players like Vinicius, Benzema and Asensio are dangerous in the one on one. We’ll try to control them. It’s a good opportunity to see where the team is. It’s a very important exam for us.”

About Memphis Depay:

“The same goes for him as for everyone else. There’s a lot of competition. Luckily we can make a squad list with many of the first team players. It’s about competition and whoever wins it, will play. That’s how it has always been for me. The better player will play regardless of their name.”

About the lineup:

“Whichever way it goes, it will tell us how we’re doing and it can be a turning point. It is el Clásico, all players are motivated and want to enjoy the competition and try to reach the final, which is the goal.”

Sergio Busquets at the press conference before el Clásico in Saudi Arabia / FC BARCELONA

Captain Sergio Busquets was also present at the press conference and answered some questions.

About the game against Real Madrid tomorrow:

“We have a great desire and enthusiasm to compete for this title and to win it, which would give us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season. We’re expecting a very close match, each team has its own weapons and both teams are filled with high-quality players. We’ve started a new stage with a new coach, a lot of young players and more and more players are recovering from their injuries. Everybody wants to play in el Clásico.”

“In el Clásico, everything starts equal regardless of the distance in points in La Liga. I don’t care if people think they are the favourites, we’ll see about that on the pitch and we hope it’ll be like the last Clásico where we had chances, but we have to be very careful.”

“The atmosphere is a little different but this is the new format of the Supercopa and we have to stay positive. It’s a chance at a title and people will watch the game all over the world, I hope everything goes well and we can celebrate it in the best way possible.”

About losing the last few editions of el Clásico:

“When el Clásico begins, everything is forgotten, I hope we can break the bad streak but that’s not the main thing. We’ll try to win the game by creating chances and scoring goals. We have to be a much more solid team and take care of the details, which will be essential.”

“The difference in the league table is what it is, but this is a single knockout game. At the Camp Nou, they won but we had our chances and there were moments where we played very well.”

About the progress of the team:

“It’s true that we’re in a better physical state now. There are players who could be better because they’ve just returned from Covid or from injuries, but we shouldn’t make excuses. We have to have faith in our way of playing and create chances. We have a great team with great players and we have the confidence and ambition to be in the final on Sunday.”

About the defence being fragile:

“There have been games where we lost points in the final minutes, like against Granada, but we have to keep working and take more possession of the ball. You need to have possession and avoid giving away freekicks and corners. When we get a little luckier and we control the details, the wins will come and we will grow even more.”

About the youngster breaking through from la Masía:

“I’m very happy and pleased that players are coming out of la Masía because of what it represents for the first team at an economic and when it comes to the style of the club. Football goes much faster nowadays and young players are already prepared for this. They shouldn’t be put under too much pressure because they’re still very young. We have to take advantage of their talent. They can mark the course of the club in the present and in the future.”