Sat 18 March 2023 | 13:57

Xavi denies that El Clasico could be the title decider

Xavi, despite acknowledging the importance of Sunday's Clasico, does not believe it to be the decisive moment in the LaLiga title race

Xavi cautioned his Barcelona squad that they should not presume they will win the title even if they emerge victorious against Real Madrid in the upcoming Clasico on Sunday.

The match is critical as


holds a nine-point lead at the top of LaLiga table, and a win against their arch-rivals would leave them on the brink of securing the championship title. However, Xavi does not want his players to become complacent and assume that the title is theirs, as there are still several games left to play.

Xavi doesn't believe that the outcome of Sunday's game will be decisive for either team, even if Barca loses.

He acknowledges the significance of the match, but he thinks that even if Barca loses, there will still be a lot of hope at Camp Nou, as no team has ever led by nine points at this stage of the season and failed to win the title.

"If we win, it would be a knock [for Madrid] in the table,"

he said.

"It wouldn't be definitive, but it would be a strong blow. Whatever happens, I think nothing will be decided [on Sunday]. We train naturally, knowing we have a great opportunity. If we win, we will take a very important step to win the league. We are very motivated. For some players, it would be the first league title. We prepared for the match, no matter how important it is."

Sunday's game will be the second instalment in a run of three Clasicos in just over a month, with Barca winning 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey on March 2; the second leg of that semi-final is set for April 5.

"Personally, I would like us to have a little more possession of the ball than in the Copa,"

he said.

"We are preparing the game in a certain way. We will try to have more control than in the last Clasico, have more of the ball and be protagonists with it. I see Madrid as very strong, they have improved a lot physically since January. I suppose it will be a closely contested game.

"The Clasicos are unpredictable, you never know what they will bring. We have prepared well; we have prepared many aspects. We hope Camp Nou will be a pressure cooker for them."

While Pedri's ability to retain possession would certainly benefit Barcelona, he will be missing in Sunday's Clasico due to a recurring hamstring injury. Xavi has decided not to take any risks by including him in the team.

"We knew there was risk [with Pedri],"

Xavi continued.

"[On Friday] he didn't feel 100 per cent, and if you're not in good shape, the best thing you can do is recover well. We talked to him and told him that he didn't have to force himself. It's an important game, but it's not a great final. We don't want to lose Pedri for two more months.

"We have played well without [Robert] Lewandowski, without Pedri, without [Ousmane] Dembele, without Gavi... We have done it. People keep talking about the first leg of the Copa semi-final, but that's the only game in which we've not had possession.

"It's clear: a match in which we are dominated will not change our mentality. From the first day that I am here, we have worked in a very concrete way."



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source: SportMob

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