Xavi has responded to the comments from critics magnanimously after he led his team to a 1 – 0 win in Thursday’s Copa del Rey semifinal first leg.
The Barcelona captain turned coach led his side to the Santiago Bernabeu and came away with a hard-fought win by playing an ultra-defensive style which was antithetical to the Catalan giants’ football philosophy.
The record holders of the Copa del Rey recorded their lowest ever possession stats in more than a decade of football (a run of 861 games), scoring as low as 35 percent after the final whistle.
Xavi was criticised for setting his team up to play the way they did in that game, despite a result which a little bit of bad luck kept them from improving.
It was a good result, nonetheless, because the Catalans will now host their bitter rivals Real Madrid at the Spotify Camp Nou in the return leg two Sundays away.
Many, however, did not like the way and manner of the win thanks to the popularity, even among other clubs, of Barcelona’s usual style of football: an attacking football heavily reliant on keeping possession and swarming the opponent’s box.
Xavi, in the calmest of manners, responded to those critics’ and stated that Barcelona was the most difficult club in the world.
“I see it has caused a bit of a stir,” the former Al Sadd manager said on Saturday in his press conference ahead of their meeting with Valencia in LaLiga. “Barça is the most difficult club in the world: you beat Real Madrid 1-0 and it doesn’t convince [people].
“If it’s the other way round, it’s a national holiday. I already said it last year and I was hammered for it: at Barça you have to win and to convince, and that’s our objective.
“But the opponent is the defending champion of LaLiga and of the Champions League, and if they press you high, it’s difficult. It’s about understanding football: speaking of possession when they play man to man is absurd.”
Then he added: “We didn’t put ourselves in the area to be in a low block, Real Madrid put us there. That’s football.”
Outside the Copa del Rey, both teams have to face each other one more time in LaLiga and Barcelona will be hoping to get their lick back following a loss at the Santiago Bernabeu.