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'They have a thousand lives' - Xavi expects 'mirage' to disappear and Real Madrid to challenge once again

15:00 BST 20/09/2019
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The former Barcelona star isn't convinced in his former rival's demise as he backed them to contend this campaign

Barcelona legend Xavi expects Real Madrid to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last season, adding that his former rivals have "a thousand lives" and that prior struggles have just been "a mirage".

Real Madrid sputtered through Julen Lopetegui's and Santiago Solari's tenures last campaign before Zinedine Zidane triumphantly returned towards the end of the season.

By that point, it was too late, as the club finished third in La Liga, 19 points behind Barcelona, while also suffering a shock Champions League elimination to Ajax in their first knockout tie.

This season hasn't started much better, with the club getting eight points from their opening four domestic matches before suffering a 3-0 battering at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

However, Xavi believes that the club's summer signings will eventually come good as Madrid's recent struggles are far from a demise.

"No, not at all. I've already lived it so many times," Xavi told Marca

"Madrid have a thousand lives. Last year is a mirage. Real Madrid will fight for everything again. For sure."

He added: "For now, the old guard is playing, but let's see what happens to the new ones. I think Madrid is going to compete for sure, for sure, for sure.

"It is true that a major revolution was expected, but in the end, Madrid are always there."

The legendary midfielder went on to add that he sees Atletico Madrid as a potential title challenger as well, as Diego Simeone's side finished second last season.

With new signing Joao Felix headlining the summer, Atleti have started the season with nine points from four games while coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw against Juventus in the Champions League.

"What I think is that Cholo is not going to change anything. He has brutal players, he has signed very well, but I don't think he will change his idea of ​​the game," Xavi added.

"Maybe in some games, yes, but in general, we're going to continue seeing a rocky, defensive team, playing very direct ... I don't think Simeone changes overnight."