Barcelona coach Xavi has been chatting to reporters ahead of Sunday’s eagerly-awaited Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga.
Xavi spoke about Gerard Pique’s fitness, what Barca can expect from Real Madrid, the possibility of Lionel Messi returning and Ronald Araujo’s potential role.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Clasico
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. If we have to label a team as a favorite it’s Madrid, league leaders and in a great moment. We have had good feelings in the last games and we are very excited.
Xavi on Real Madrid
Madrid are chameleon-like. You never know if they’re going to wait for you or press you. We don’t know what to expect. We’ll try to have a lot of possession and play our style of football. Playing at home I imagine they’ll be pressing high up the pitch all game. We have to be prepared for all facets of the game.
Xavi on Benzema missing
He’s one of the best No. 9s in the world and has been for a couple of years. It’s a blow for them but it’s not going to change my plan. I suppose that for them it can change something.
Xavi on his message to the players
I will try to convey our idea of the game first, be brave, have personality, with respect but without fear of Madrid. Try to show our personality and impose our ideas. From then on, calm down, there will be moments of everything. From my experience I can transmit calm. It’s not a final. It’s only three points. We must enjoy the game, do our best.
Xavi on if he’s grateful Luis Enrique has not called up Busquets
Yes of course. He deserves it. He’s played so many games, He’s a spectacular footballer. Everything that Busquets has given to Barça and the national team is extraordinary. Of course I am grateful. Well done Luis Enrique.
Xavi on Pique
He’s OK, nothing major. He has minor discomfort that hurts as the game goes on, but he’s fine. He’ll be available tomorrow.
Xavi on pressure
The pressure is the same. If we win we would be closer to our first objective, which is to be in the Champions League next season. But I see winning La Liga as remote and complicated.
Xavi on Messi
I think Messi’s the best ever. The door will always be open and, while I am coach, if he wants to come every day to watch training or to speak with the manager [no problem]. He’s owed a huge homage from the club. That’s how it should be because everything he has given us has no price. But he has a contract with PSG so I can’t say much more.
Xavi on Vinicius
We are going to change a few things tomorrow. The idea is to be the protagonists, dominate the rival with the ball, press high, after losing. That will be the model. The protagonists will change as well. I have a clear plan.
Xavi on if Araujo could play right-back
All options are on the table. Everyone is performing at a very high level. All the starters and substitutes have been good. I told the players that I had been unfair to some. Eric, Gerard, Clem, Dani, there are so many options that we have to decide and we will be unfair to some.