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Xavi: “We’re prepared and motivated, we want the three points”

Xavi during a press conference/ SPORT
Xavi during a press conference / SPORT

FC Barcelona face Real Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday, in one of the biggest games of the season, the El Clasico. Xavi spoke to the press prior to the match, where he talked about the Clasico, Benzema, Messi and much more.

Here’s what Barça manager Xavi had to say:

On the match against Real Madrid

“It’s a spectacular setting to play a great game and show that we’re in great form. We’ve grown as a team. We have to show personality and try to impose our game model. If we have to label a team as a favourite, it’s Madrid, leader and in great form. We have had good feelings in the last games.”

On Real Madrid

“Madrid is a chameleon, you never know if they’re going to wait for you or push you. They had a brutal last half hour against PSG, with pressure. I envision a match more similar to the Super Cup, with Madrid waiting on the counterattack. But they can also push up. We’ll see.”

On the last few meetings with Real Madrid

“I don’t know if there was an inferiority complex, I wasn’t there, but it’s a great opportunity to change history and a win would greatly support what we’re working on.”

On Benzema’s absence

“Benzema is one of the best nines in the world, it’s a sensible loss, but for us our approach doesn’t change. I suppose that for them it can change something.”

On their gameplan

“We have to be brave, try to impose our idea, and calm down because there will be moments of everything. From my experience I can transmit calm, that there are only three points and that we have to try to enjoy.”

“We are going to change few things, we want the ball, press high, recover after loss, I have a clear proposal.”

On Luis Enrique giving Busquets a rest

“If you look at the calendar, everything that Busquets has given Barça and the national team has been scandalously good. He deserves the rest that Luis Enrique gives him.”

On Pique’s availability

“Piqué is fine, available to compete, with some discomfort, but fine.”

On what it means for him to represent the team in a Clasico

“For me it is a pride and an honour to represent what I consider the best club in the world, not only because it is at the Bernabéu, but also in other stadiums.”

On if this game brings extra pressure

“I don’t see it that way, the pressure is the same. If we win we would be closer to the first objective, which is to be in the Champions League next season. But I see winning the league as remote and complicated. We would be within 12 points, with a game postponed. It is complicated.”

On what has changed since the Super Cup

“On the day of the Super Cup we were good, but now we are more solid, we have improved, the pressure after losing… but we have to show that on the pitch, not me talking here.”

On if they arrive in this game with more confidence than previous years

“I don’t know if we arrive with more self-esteem than previous years, but we do have good dynamics, enthusiasm against a rival who is in great form.”

On the lineup

“I have a clear idea, but you will see it tomorrow. In training we will adjust things and the approach will be seen immediately with the line-up.”

On his time playing in the Clasicos

“Luckily I have very good memories, of great victories and great feelings for having played very good games there and also winning, something that does not always happen. That streak of victories and goals at the Bernabéu was not normal, but we will be competitive.”

On winning against a big team

“What is a big team for you? We beat Atlético, yes, but also Villarreal or Napoli. We have competed well against Madrid in the Super Cup, also losing to Athletic in the Cup or losing at home against Betis.”

On if a Messi return is possible

“Messi has earned having the doors open to Barça, as long as I’m the coach here it’s like he wants to come every day to watch training or talk to the coach. What he’s given us is priceless, he’s the best player in history, but today he has a contract with PSG, I think he signed for two years.”

On Benzema’s possible replacement and challenging for the league

“How to replace Benzema is a question for Ancelotti, but he has options. And I already said about the league that it is very difficult even if we win.”

On a parallel of the current situation with 2004

“If we win, I do see a parallel with 2004. That victory didn’t help us win the league either, but it did strengthen us and change the dynamic, as could happen now.”

On using Araujo to stop Vinicius and possible changes

“Araujo with Vinicius? There are many possibilities and options, I am unfair to many players, many can enter, but everyone has to be prepared because playing the last half hour can be transcendental.”

On playing in the Senyera kit

“With the issue of the color of the kits, you have to understand that you have to respect commercial contracts. If you sign a contract it’s because you agree. Marketing is part of football.”

On the Clasico being a special occasion

“It’s a very special game. It’s always difficult, but we’re prepared and motivated. We’re going to approach the game based on attack. We want the three points.”