FC Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has complete confidence in his players, but he is the first to admit that they are in for a tough challenge as they face a Real Madrid squad that is the “most in-form team” in Spain at the moment. The two sides will face each other in the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
The two sides are coming into the first “El Clasico” of 2022 from completely different sides of the spectrum. Real Madrid have held the lead at the top of the La Liga table for most of the current campaign, while Barcelona have been struggling to get into the European spots. Barcelona have been dealt with blow after blow this season, including the 2-1 loss in the most recent El Clasico in La Liga last October. On top of that, Barcelona have not beaten Real Madrid since 2019.
Xavi knows the stakes, but he is quick to dismiss their opponents’ advantage. “I see a Barcelona [side] under construction and a [Real] Madrid [side] in a very good shape, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said at his pre-match press conference as quoted by Marca.
“We have faced them in all situations. It will not be easy to impose our game because they are the most in-form team in Spain,” he added, before saying that he still sees good things in his team that could help them overcome their biggest rivals.
“In other aspects, we are good. We have to continue building this project. Tomorrow is a good test to know where we are,” he added. Xavi is also pleased that Pedri is available after recovering from Covid-19, and new signing Ferran Torres has finally been registered.
He is hoping that a victory in El Clasico and a potential Supercup trophy could just be what they need to get the new Barcelona off the ground. “It can be a turning point. Getting into a final and then winning a title would give tremendous credibility to our project,” he said.
However, before thinking of the final, he knows that they need to get over the hurdle of defeating Los Blancos “It would be important [to win the semi-final]. It would not give us the title, because there would still be a final to play, but it would be very important for us.”
Both he and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti are aware that in “El Clasico,” anything can happen. Even with Real Madrid coming in as favourites, the outcome is still unpredictable.
“Nobody knows what might happen, regardless of the point difference [between the two],” said Xavi.