Hungry Madrid in better form but Barcelona strong: Xavi

AFP , Saturday 13 Jan 2024

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez admitted Saturday that "hungry" rivals Real Madrid are in better form but insisted his side are strong and can retain the Spanish Super Cup.

Xavi
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez admitted Real Madrid are in better form but said his team are strong and can win the Spanish Super Cup again. Photo: AFP

The Spanish giants do battle in Sunday's Clasico final in Saudi Arabia, a repeat of last year's showdown in which the Catalans excelled to lift the first trophy of Xavi's reign.

Barcelona went on to win La Liga and although his team trail leaders Madrid by seven points this season, the coach insisted he has a "winning project".

"We will try to dominate the game, impose our personality, our way of playing and dominate the ball," Xavi told a news conference in Riyadh on Saturday.

"We arrive in little less form than Real Madrid, but when the ball is rolling there will be no favourites."

Record 14-time Super Cup champions Barcelona are third in La Liga and suffered surprise defeats by Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp in the Champions League, although they qualified for the knock-out phase top of their group regardless.

Xavi insisted he is calm about the situation after the success of last season.

"A trophy is at stake, I arrive in a much more comfortable position than last season -- we have won, we've shown this is a winning project, I'm calmer," continued Xavi.

"Madrid are always hungry (and) this is a strong Barca, we're on a stage which is ideal, it gives me so much motivation and we will give everything."

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said defender Dani Carvajal was fit to play despite not training with his team-mates on Friday.

The coach would not reveal whether Kepa Arrizabalaga or Andriy Lunin would start in goal.

"I don't want to give away any clues," explained Ancelotti.

"At the moment I don't feel like I can pick one to be starter and one to be substitute, and I think both of them understand that."

Ancelotti has the chance to match Zinedine Zidane as Madrid's second most successful coach ever with victory in the final to bring him an 11th trophy at the helm of Los Blancos.

Miguel Munoz won 14 as Real Madrid manager between 1960-1974, including nine La Liga titles and two European Cups.

Ancelotti said he was pleased at the chance to level Zidane but he was always looking forward, hunting for more.

"Trophies stay in the cupboard, you look at them now and again, they are memories, but the important thing is the next day," added the coach.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: