Barcelona will be aiming to progress to the finals of the Copa del Rey final when they host Real Madrid in the second leg of the semi-final clash at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
The Blaugrana are currently ahead of their arch-rivals in the semi-final tie, having beaten them 1-0 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. And the La Liga leaders will be hoping to notch up yet another victory against Carlo Ancelotti’s men and secure a spot in the cup finals.
In a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s match, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez spoke about the upcoming game and other matters related to his team.
Here are the excerpts from the presser ahead of this crucial encounter.
On tomorrow’s game vs Real Madrid: “We want to play against Real Madrid like we did in the Super Cup. I can already visualize a very tough game. We’ll try to do our best, but it will be very tough.”
“Real Madrid are the reigning league and Champions League winners. We’re going to try and control the match, to win it, but it will be difficult.”
On Pedri and de Jong’s injuries: “Without De Jong and Pedri, we might not have the ball as much as we would like, but we will try to control the game and play attacking football.”
On Real Madrid: “For me, the relationship with Real Madrid is cordial, based on fair play. It’s an eternal rivalry and we always want to beat them, but not by breaking the rules.
“Real Madrid have lost three Clasicos in a row, but that doesn’t mean anything. They will compete very well like they always do.”
On the Negreira case: “We’re not talking about external issues in the dressing room. We don’t get distracted by that. We focus on tactics and matches.”
On Javier Tebas: “I don’t know Javier Tebas. We’ve met and greeted each other a couple of times, but I can’t give a clear opinion about him.”
On Robert Lewandowski: It’s important that Lewandowski scored again, after a couple games without scoring. The same with Ansu and Ferran, attackers need that.
On the battle between Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema: With Benzema and Lewandowski, we’re speaking of two out of the three best strikers in the world right now. They’re similar, but Benzema joins the midfield more. I would say that Robert understands our game perfectly, and he’s more physical.”
On winning trophies: “Last year, I was convinced that this season we were going to win titles. I put pressure on myself with what I said before, but right now we have two important titles at stake, and we’ve already won one. There are players in the squad that have only won a Super Copa in their career. The hunger for titles is massive.”
On whether Real Madrid players will try to provoke Gavi: “Gavi, for his age, is quite mature. I don’t want him to lose the naturalness he has, he competes very well.”
On the worth of versatile players: “It’s a privilege to play with versatile players. For example with Eric as a pivot, Balde on the right, Sergi Roberto in multiple positions… I don’t think that playing them there is because of the club’s financial situation, no.”
On Sergi Roberto: “Sergi Roberto plays anywhere and he can play well.”
On Julian Araujo: “It’s a real shame that Julian Araujo can’t play for us right now, but he can help us next season. He’s a good footballer, and he’s adapted well.”
On Eric Garcia: “I think that everything is compatible in football. Eric is an intelligent player who can adapt to many positions. It adds value to him, he could play as a full-back as well, we know that.”
On Franck Kessie: “Franck Kessie is a player that works for the team. He understands what I want from him, and he’s been important when having influence in the final third. He will be important tomorrow, for sure.”
On his contract renewal rumours: “The President highly values the work we are doing. We want La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Nothing should divert us. We have to remember where we were last year and see where we are now.
“Sometimes coaches are given a lot of importance, but it’s the players who make the difference on the pitch.”