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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Barcelona coach Xavi had to justify himself after defeating Real Madrid

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Barcelona coach Xavi
Image: APA/Javier Soriano
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“We haven’t revealed a model. We also have to play defensively, that’s part of the game,” said the 43-year-old. However, Xavi also admitted that Barça “couldn’t boast” about the manner of Thursday night’s 1-0 win: “It’s not the game we want.”

The statistics showed an unusual 35 percent ball possession for the leaders of the Spanish Primera División. For the weakened team, which had to do without the injured Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele, this is the lowest value in all competitions in ten years.

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“Barcelona didn’t deserve to win,” said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, “I think that’s obvious.”

Discarded Style and DNA

Barcelona shed “style and DNA” in this encounter and installed a “manual catenaccio”, wrote the Spanish newspaper “AS”. She was reminiscent of the style that was once coined in Italy: “Barça only knew how to defend.”

However, that’s what the guests did. The visually superior Madrid team, who missed David Alaba with a thigh injury, fired 13 shots but none were on target. That last happened to the “Royal” in a competitive game at home in 2010.

And so Eder Militao’s own goal in the 26th minute decided the game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The second leg will take place in Barcelona on April 5, after which the two arch-rivals will meet in the championship on March 19.

Kroos and Mordic too strong

“The opponents forced us to play like this,” Xavi explained of the defensive play of his team, previously known for their short passing game. He highlighted the dominance of the two Real midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modríc. “How do you plan to take the ball away from Kroos and Modríc? You have to acknowledge that, it’s extraordinary.”

So the 31-time cup winner changed tactics and concentrated primarily on sealing off his own penalty area.

It was possible to almost completely take the last outstanding Real attacker Vinícius Júnior out of the game. “Perfect,” enthused Xavi, “Vinícius was hardly in the game. It was a great defensive performance from the whole team.”

Source: Nachrichten

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