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Xavi: “I still see Madrid as the favorite”

Frenkie de Jong dribbling past Toni Kroos in the Copa del Rey semi-final clash against Real Madrid/ Sara Gordon- F C BARCELONA

The Catalans earned a hard-fought victory after an intense match against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. Xavi, Busquets, Araujo, and Marcos Alonso spoke to the press after the game and talked about the result, the second-leg fixture, among other things.

Barça managed to snatch a victory by the slimmest of margins against their fierce rivals, Real Madrid in the first-leg match of the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. The Blaugrana will hope to continue their good run of form as they face Real Madrid a couple of times more in the coming few days.

This is what Xavi had to say :

On summarising the game :

“We have eliminated most of the chances that Madrid tried to create but we have not been able to control the ball. It has been difficult for us tonight. We have already shown for some time that we know how to compete and win in difficult games. It is proof of the fact that we have not suffered against a tough opponent. I am satisfied with the result, not so much with the game.”

On the game plan :

“The plan was to play in the opponent’s half, keep hold of the ball, and dominate possession, but it is not easy against big teams. We always want to control our rivals but sometimes they can control us. Our first mandate is to defend with the ball, but today we couldn’t. Then there is the second objective, which is to defend without the ball and we have been extraordinary there.”

On the opponent :

“It wasn’t the game we wanted, but sometimes the opponent takes you to a stage you don’t want and you have to know how to manage it. Physically, they are very strong and we have to defend ourselves in the box from the crosses from the sides, and the shots. Defending against a top team is crucial and is an essential part of the game and you have to value it.”

On the defending :

“In defense, we have been extraordinary and the work rate has been very high in the midfield. Araujo is one of the best defenders in the world, like Koundé. Marcos and Balde played a great game. The amount of running Kessie, Frenkie, and Sergio have done is commendable.”

On the return fixture :

“The result doesn’t change much. We have a one-goal advantage, but I see Madrid as physically very strong. I still see Madrid as the favorite. If we had lost, nothing would have happened in that case as well. We are not in the final yet. We are in the middle of the tournament. It is true that the result gives morale, but in April there will be the second-leg game, and we need to be in the best possible shape.”

On the tension in the game :

“It is a Clásico and these things happen. In the end, there is always respect. I don’t think this result will influence La Liga.”

This is what Sergio Busquets had to say :

On his thoughts from the game :

“It is clear that we would have liked to have more possession, more control with the ball in the game, but they have applied a lot of pressure on us. We have shown how to compete and the team has done a good job physically. We have played very well in the midfield and despite the fact that they had control of the possession, we have made it difficult for them to create chances.”

On the result :

“We were lucky with the own goal forced in by Franck, and we almost scored a second goal which was unluckily deflected by Ansu. We have the smallest of advantages heading into the second leg.”

On setting the record for the most appearances in the Clásico :

“I am happy about it. Being able to enjoy these matches is the best feeling for any player and we must continue to keep working.”

On the second leg match :

“The one-goal lead is important, but there’s still the second leg left. We came from two defeats and this strengthens the morale of the group. We had injuries and the team competed very well, they worked together well when we didn’t have the ball. We scored the goal and covered the midfield very well. It has been seen that in these duels, both teams are very even. Perhaps in these last few games against them, we have won and we have competed better, but it will be very close and there is still a long way to go. There is nothing decided yet. Hopefully, we can get another good result and advance to the final.”

This is what Araujo had to say :

On the result :

“I am very happy with the victory. It was important for us to win today after coming from two defeats. I think we played a great game. It was what the game required and the truth is that we like to have possession, but today it didn’t happen. The most important thing is that we defended well. I always point out that it was something we had to correct from last season and it looks like the team is working well defensively. We were able to sustain the result and secure a victory that is crucial for us.”

On the squad :

“The team is united and together. The team is in good spirits. We knew the importance of getting a good result today, we took the victory and will play the second leg at home. Generally, we have a lot of control over the ball, but the opponent has made it tougher for us. In return, we have shown that we can work very well defensively. I hope Dembélé, Pedri, and Lewandowski are fit by the team we play the return fixture.”

This is what Marcos Alonso had to say :

On the result :

“It is an important victory. We are competing to play in a final and we have half the job done. Despite the elimination from the Europa League, we are improving things and we are working well. Today we have shown it, playing a great game defensively. When you can’t control with possession you have to defend. With little possession and having to defend we have been comfortable and we have even created a lot of chances for the second goal.”

On the second leg match :

“There are 90 minutes left and we’ll have to be the same or more focused than today. Let’s hope that with the help of our fans at Camp Nou, we can earn a place in the final.”