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Barça are going to play one of the most important games of the season on Wednesday. The first trophy of the Xavi era is up for grabs, along with the pride that comes with beating their biggest rival. Having been one of the players to have played in the most Clásicos, the coach is aware of how difficult it will be to win a game like this that "we have experienced in all shapes and forms". Despite the difference in league position, he thinks that the game in Riyadh is an "unpredictable" Clásico: "I see Barça building and Madrid in very good form, but it's a Clásico and anything can happen", he stated.
“It's an opportunity for us. It's a challenge and we are really up for it, we have a trophy to play for and we will try to impose ourselves. In my experience, a Clásico is unpredictable and you never know what might happen”, added Xavi, who believes “Real Madrid are the most in-form team in Spain”. However, the Catalan coach showed his steel when asked about their opponents potentially missing players: “It's better that they all play, then we'll know where we're at. We don't want any excuses”.
The coach appeared optimistic about the match and happy with the work done up to now: “I see very positive things, things that we have really improved. The players are taking it on board and we have to be patient”, but “we have to kill off the game when we get the chances and we have to learn how to compete. We need time to grow”.
The coach also went into a few more details about the following:
Pedri, Ansu and Ferran all available
“It's great news for us that both Ferran and Pedri returned negative PCR tests. Being able to call on them and get Ansu back is very good news. However, we have to introduce them gradually, particularly those returning after a long injury absence. I am very pleased and happy to have them back, they are essential for the system we want to use”.
On the potential starters
“We are finding it hard to create and we hope the new additions can make the difference in the areas. Tomorrow we will find out. This is their first training session with the group after testing positive for COVID-19. They'll probably play some of the game tomorrow, but we need to see how long. There is still five months left of the season and we don't want to lose any more players”.
Real Madrid's threats
“He [Araujo] is not the only important aspect, it's a collective effort. They really thrive from transitions, they are comfortable defending in a low block and we have to be prepared to cover. Vinicius, Benzema... they have very good players in transitions and one-on-ones. We have to look at what we do and really improve on strategic plays, crosses from the wings, marking. It is a good test to see where we are at”.
Meritocracy when managing minutes
“Everyone is equally important. Those that work hard and deserve to play will play. Fortunately we can now include more first-team players in the squad, making the squad more competitive. But this is meritocracy and the best will play, it doesn't matter who it is.
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