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Xavi: “Madrid will seek revenge after losing three times”

Xavi during the practice session before the semi-final clash against Real Madrid/ Photo by FC BARCELONA

FC Barcelona manager Xavi has urged his players to stay focused for the upcoming clash against Real Madrid. He believes that Los Blancos are still the favourites despite having a narrow disadvantage.

Barça head into the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals against Real Madrid with the slightest of advantages. The Catalans hope to book their place in the finals after coming out on top in the recent two meetings with their rivals. Xavi sat down with the press before Wednesday’s fixture where they spoke about the squad, the game plan, and injuries, among other things.

This is what he had to say:

On the game plan:

“We aim to do what we did in the Super Cup and the league game at home. That’s our ideal game. Madrid are the League and European champions, so it will be difficult to control the game against them. We’ll try to do it but in the first leg they were in control more than us.”

On the focus of the team:

“The squad take no notice of what is being said in the news. We don’t talk about Negreira, Tebas, UEFA. We only want to show that we can win. We play at home and that’s what we have to take advantage of. We only talk about football. It is quite evident that we are playing much better than we did last season, anyone who denies that is just trying to be unreasonable. What we want to do is turn that good form into trophies.”

On the opponent:

“I think they’re set on getting revenge because they’ve lost the last three games against us. They are a team that always competes so it doesn’t change much. We might try something different to surprise them. I don’t think they will. They have a clear idea about their game and are good at what they do. I certainly wouldn’t say we have the upper hand against them. They have an equal chance of winning and are very good at games where they need to make a comeback. I still think they’re the favourites. They are very hard to beat over two legs.”

On the fans:

“I call on the fans to come and make themselves heard at Spotify Camp Nou. We are really motivated for this game, but a packed stadium will raise the pressure on the opposition.”

On the injured players:

“The absence of players like Pedri and Frenkie de Jong takes affects our game when we have the ball, but we are still looking forward to controlling the possession to win. We certainly won’t be playing for a draw. Madrid are an aggressive side and we’ll need to be ready for that.”

On Gavi:

“Gavi is an extraordinarily mature player for his age. He wins a lot of duels and plays with the kind of passion which makes me hope he never loses.”

On Kessie:

“He understands teamwork very well. He’s physically strong, he always arrives into the box, as he’s already shown, and he’s been great lately.”

On the possibility of winning three titles:

“I was convinced from the beginning, and I said at Gamper, that the objective was to win titles. We have one at the moment and we can win two more. I know that I put pressure on myself, but this is Barça.”

On Eric’s new role against Elche:

“If the players are good, it’s easy for them to adapt. We also tested Eric a year ago as a full-back. It’s worth it that he’s multifunctional. Both Eric and Busquets can play together perfectly.”

On the comparisons between Lewandowski and Benzema:

“They are two of the top 3 strikers in the world. Robert understands our positional play. Benzema is everywhere during the play and has so much talent. Perhaps Robert is a bit more physical.”