Barcelona manager Xavi has warned his side that they must prepare to face a Real Madrid side out for ‘revenge’ in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday.
The Blaugrana hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg, having won their third consecutive Clasico, although their performance was not overly convincing and Xavi has already acknowledged that a similar performance will not be acceptable this time around.
Despite their advantageous position, Xavi warned Barcelona that they are not the favourites in a two-legged tie against a Real side with a fierce reputation in knockout football.
“Our goal, our example to follow, is the Super Cup, and the league Clasico at home,” Xavi said. “But Madrid are league and European champions. We’ll try to dominate but it won’t be easy. 0-1 is a very good result until now.
“I have the feeling that when it’s our turn to play two legs against Real Madrid, it’s very difficult. How long has it been since they lost a two-legged tie? That’s why I still think they’re favourites despite being 0-1. The pressure is on them.
“They can beat you perfectly. They’re still favourites. They’re more used to these games and they’re used to coming back. For me they’re still the favourites.”
Asked what kind of team he expects to face on Wednesday, the boss continued: “An aggressive Madrid. They will come out to press. In the Cup they were superior. We will try to subdue them. We have a great team up front. We have to have a lot of personality to have the ball, but I see the team prepared.
“I think they will come hurt and want revenge because they have lost the last three Clasicos. They will come hurt. They always compete.
“I expect a very difficult, very tough match. It’s a winning team. They have a lot of top players in their squad. We’ll try to do our best.”
Wednesday’s game will be the final Clasico of a memorable season for Xavi, who may have feared the worst when his Barcelona side were bested 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in October 2022.
Since then, however, life has been close to perfect for the Blaugrana. They saw off Real in the Supercopa final in January before winning the first leg of this tie, and a third straight Clasico victory was secured just weeks ago as Franck Kessie’s late strike sent Barcelona one step closer to La Liga glory.
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