Xavi: "What about 1-0? It's a fantastic result, but I'd rather win 4-0 or 5-4".

Xavi: "What about 1-0? It's a fantastic result, but I'd rather win 4-0 or 5-4".
Xavi, during the press conference.
Xavi, during the press conference.
Xavi Hernandez (43) spoke ahead of Sunday's Clasico against Real Madrid. The coach asked for the support of the fans ahead of a game that could be "a blow of authority" if Barça win it and assured that they will try to be much more offensive than in the Copa match, although he also vindicated himself for the large number of victories by small scorelines that the Catalan team has achieved this season. In addition, the Terrassa native stated that the Barçagate scandal will not serve to destabilise them and commented that he never felt that the referees benefited them because they won "in a lawful manner".

What kind of game he expects in the Clásico

"We prepared the game to have more dominance than in the last one. We're not looking to defend without the ball but to have it with long possessions and be much more of a protagonist than in the Copa match at the Bernabéu. We are playing against a Real Madrid team that I see as strong and who have improved a lot physically since January. I expect it to be hard-fought and that they will also want to dominate and press us up front like in the Copa. In the Clásicos you never know what's going to happen, regardless of how each team arrives, but we've worked on many aspects and I expect a pressure cooker, with respect for our opponents, but encouraging each other to make it a spectacular game on our part".

Pedri's physical condition

"He was very tight. We knew there was a risk, but yesterday he wanted to train and he suffered. In this type of match, if you're not at 100% it's better not to take part. Let him rest and recover well. It's not a final because there are 12 games left. It's important and decisive if we win, but we don't want to lose him for two months."

Possible tactics similar to the Super Cup

"It's our objective. In the Cup, it was the only game in which they dominated us and were superior in the physical duels pressing high. We're working to compensate for that and to do better than in the previous game. Let's see if we can improve, but I think we can dominate even without Pedri.

Who is the favourite

"I think it's fifty-fifty. Maybe we're a bit ahead because we're playing at home in front of our fans, who have to cheer us on, but it's very evenly matched.

On whether the Clásico can decide LaLiga

"If we win, it would be a blow of authority because we would be 12 points behind with 12 games to go. Whatever happens, there will still be points to play for and difficult games".

His first Clasico at the Spotify Camp Nou

"I'm very motivated. You know that I'm very much a Barça fan and the Clásico excites and excites me. The setting is very good because of our advantage and I think we have a lot to win. We've trained well and I have a good feeling, but in football you never know".

What does Araújo bring to the right-back position to stop Vinícius?

"He's very strong physically, quick, he knows where the opponent is going to break free... He's a physical talent who likes to defend, he's responsible, he's a leader and aggressive in duels. He is a world-class defender and, at the moment, one of the best in the world. Normally, he has come out on top in the duel with Vinícius, but the Brazilian makes a lot of differences. He's a player I really like the way he tackles, the personality he has... He's an extraordinary asset for Madrid. But it's not just Ronald, it's the help and the vigilance of the others".

His response to Simeone for his criticism of Barça's multiple 1-0 defeats

"One thing is the result and another, the style. We're not going to change our style, which is to dominate and we're never going to close in at the back. We are proactive and try to press high. It's another thing if they overcome our high pressing and dominate us, but we always press the goalkeeper and we want to have possession. The idea is not touched. Historically, we won the first European Cup 1-0 with Koeman's goal and nobody said anything about it. I don't know why people are talking about style now because we won 1-0, but it doesn't worry me and I have respect for Cholo and everyone else. Our idea is very clear and the players and the president know it."

Laporta's words on an alleged campaign to destabilise Barça

"I agree, of course. He is the president and he is the boss. We have spoken a lot and what he says goes without saying because he is the leader of the project, but I don't want to talk about that subject because I have already spoken a lot and I focus on football".

What do you take away from the previous clashes with Real Madrid?

"A bit of everything. We competed very well both with the ball, as we did in the Super Cup, and without it, as we did in the Cup. If we do both well, we have a good chance of winning, but I'd like to have more possession and dominance in the opposition half because I suffer when my team doesn't have the ball, but we defend very well and I'm proud of that."

Who has more pressure

"The pressure is always on us to win, but they have more pressure because of the situation in the standings. Being Barcelona we already have pressure because there is a lot of criticism and a lot of demands being the biggest club in the world".

The key to Raphinha's improvement

"He is a player I like. He has a great personality and he is showing it even in the bad moments, from which he has come out withstanding the criticism and has benefited us a lot. He is making a difference with goals, assists... And this is his first year, which is not easy. I'm happy for him because he deserves it and he works hard.

How do you separate what happens off the pitch to face the matches?

"In a natural way. We don't talk about the referees or the Negreira case. We focus on playing, on competing and in the staff we try to be natural with them and to abstract ourselves from everything that happens around the club. I haven't done anything different since the start of the season".

Araújo as a full-back in other games, not just in the Clásico.

"We have done it in other games because Koundé and Ronald are interchangeable depending on the match. They are a guarantee for the team."

Both teams tend to play better away from home in the Clásicos

"Maybe away from home there's less pressure or you get a bit more up for it because of the hostility of the stadium. But we're talking about the difficulty of beating a team like Madrid, who are European and league champions and who play very well, so it will be difficult to beat them".

How is Raphinha after not being called up for Brazil?

"He's fine, calm. We haven't talked about it and we're thinking about Barça. It will be good for him to rest and disconnect for a few days. I'm happy with his performance, but I don't get involved in what happens with the Brazilian national team".

His level of satisfaction with a 1-0 win over Madrid

"But what about a 1-0 win? If I had to choose, I'd prefer a 4-0 or 5-4, but it's very difficult to score goals because people defend well. Anyone who hasn't played football at the top level doesn't know what it's like to have an opponent in front of you, especially Real Madrid. To win 1-0 is a fantastic result, a marvellous result".

What Camp Nou expects in light of Barçagate

"They're not going to destabilise us, we're more stable than ever. We will compete and try to win, but there is no problem with that".

On whether it hurts him that the titles he won as a player are being called into question

"It doesn't bother me because people can say what they want. I know that we won legally and I never felt that we won because of the referees. If that were the case, I would go home because just as I don't want them to harm me, I don't want them to benefit me".

How difficult is it for the players to keep their feet on the ground when they are close to winning LaLiga?

"We train naturally knowing that it is an opportunity and we are motivated. For many players, it would be their first league title and that means winning tomorrow".

How he thinks Real Madrid will play

"Maybe they will play a more attacking game than usual, but this will be good for the fans but maybe not for us. We must dominate the game more than in the Copa to give our best version because they are playing well".