Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez has mentioned Real Madrid are the favourites going into Thursday’s Copa del Rey conflict on the Bernabeu.
There might be three Clasicos inside one month, with the primary kicking off on Thursday when Madrid host Barca within the first leg of the semifinal, with the second leg to come at Camp Nou at first of April after the groups meet in LaLiga on March 19.
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Madrid received when the 2 groups met within the league earlier this season, however Barca have been victorious within the Spanish Super Cup ultimate between the 2 sides final month in Saudi Arabia.
Barca have since misplaced Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele to harm, however Xavi mentioned Madrid could be favourites for the tie even when the Catalans have been at full power.
“Madrid are favourites because they are LaLiga and Champions League holders,” Xavi mentioned in a information convention. “They are a tough opponent and they are in good form.
“We have received a trophy, beating them within the ultimate, enjoying extraordinary soccer, however it’s Madrid. They are competing very well — they scored 5 objectives in opposition to Liverpool.
“I have to be honest. I don’t mind saying it. That said, we have the weapons to do damage, we have shown that, and it will be an even tie, but they are favourites.”
Barca have constructed a seven-point lead over Madrid on the high of LaLiga however have suffered back-to-back defeats over the final week to dampen the temper across the membership.
They have been knocked out of the Europa League by Manchester United after which suffered a shock defeat to Almeria within the league on the weekend as they missed the prospect to go 10 factors clear as leaders.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Xavi mentioned of the pessimism following these losses. “I know the club and the environment around it and I know where the shots get fired.
“If we solely have a look at the final two video games, we are in hospital, but when we have a look at how we are doing total — seven clear in LaLiga, within the semifinal of the cup, Super Cup winners, we competed in Europe regardless of going out — the image continues to be good.”
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And he insisted the position Barca have worked for themselves does not increase the pressure on him when it was suggested this series of games against Madrid could mark the Blaugrana’s season.
“Not in any respect,” Xavi said. “I’m all the time motivated for video games on the Bernabeu. I just like the rivalry. I like going there and making an attempt to dominate the sport. It motivates me greater than different video games, it will get me going.
“I would love to have the ball in the middle of the pitch, but I can’t, so I tell the players to try things, to be brave … winning at the Bernabeu is a great feeling.
“We have to be extra of a staff than ever, in defence, assault and at set performs. The small particulars determine these video games. We will play the best way we usually do in opposition to Madrid.
“In many phases of play they don’t dominate [the game], but they have mini-spells where they do and are great in transitions. We have to be brave, play with character and minimise how often we give the ball away because they can do damage with Vinicius, Rodrygo, [Fede] Valverde and [Karim] Benzema.
“They beat us nicely in LaLiga and we beat them within the Super Cup. I believe it is going to be determined within the second leg. It is a golden alternative to attain a ultimate and win a trophy.”
While Barca are with out Lewandowski, Pedri and Dembele, Madrid are doubtless to welcome again Rodrygo after he returned to coaching this week.
They might be with out Ferland Mendy and David Alaba by harm, although, with Nacho Fernandez doubtless to proceed at left-back.
The different semifinal pits Osasuna in opposition to Athletic Club, with the primary leg to be performed in Pamplona on Wednesday. The ultimate is on May 6.