Xavi: Loss to Madrid won’t ‘tarnish’ LaLiga title


Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Wednesday’s crushing 4-0 Copa del Rey semifinal defeat to Real Madrid is difficult to digest but insists it will not stain a potential LaLiga title.

A second half hat-trick from Karim Benzema and a Vinicius Junior goal helped Madrid overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat to set up a final against Osasuna in May.

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The loss ended a run of three straight Clasico wins for Barca, the first of which came in the Spanish Super Cup final and the most recent allowed the Catalan side to open up a 12-point lead at the top of the table.

“It’s difficult to digest,” Xavi conceded in a news conference after seeing his side fall apart in the second half at Spotify Camp Nou. “We were doing well, but we lost order after the second goal, maybe [it was down to] maturity, we have a lot of very young players. Madrid have these things. Without playing well, they have the lead at the break.

“If we had taken the lead, maybe it would have been different because we competed well in the first half. In the second half, Madrid were better. I said they were the favourites [before the game]. They’re the Champions League holders. They are a great team.

“I told the players that this is Madrid. That you dominate the game, create chances and you’re losing 1-0 at half-time. Football is a game of moments and Madrid take advantage of their moments well. We saw it last season in the Champions League.

“Our moment was the first half. They were better in the second half, physically, pressing and in transitions. If you don’t kill them off, they kill you. There is nothing else for it but to congratulate them for the result.”

The cup exit comes on the back of eliminations from both the Champions League and Europa League earlier this season, but with the Super Cup already won and one hand on a first LaLiga title since 2019, Xavi said the season can still be a successful one.

“We have won the Super Cup and are doing well in LaLiga,” he added. “We have to keep competing. If we win LaLiga and the Super Cup, it will be a very good season. This result should not tarnish that.

“We are hurting today, it will be hard to sleep tonight, especially as the fan that I am. But from [Thursday] we think about Girona. We have lost in the semifinal of the Copa, but now we focus on LaLiga.”

Barca were without Andreas Christensen, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele against Madrid through injury, but Xavi did not want to bemoan absences.

“There are no excuses, we have to compete,” he said. “This happens in a season, you get injuries. We would have liked to have them playing, but we competed well without them in the first half.”

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