- Xavi faced Madrid 42 times in playing career
- Claims Bernabeu 'turns him on'
- Two sides meet in Thursday's semi-final
WHAT HAPPENED? Spain's eternal rivals will meet on Madrid soil in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at a ground where Xavi had many famous duels as a player, and has since had a handful as a manager. The Barca boss has already labelled the home side as "clear" favourites, but he admitted he was relishing the occasion in a special kind of way - as he always does at the Bernabeu.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Going to Santiago Bernabeu always turns me on,” Xavi said at his pre-match press conference. “I’d like to play, I’d love to. It’s a great feeling and that’s why I tell my players that they have to be brave."
“We are in a good situation,” he added. “We have the opportunity to win a title. It is an opportunity to react. We will go out to win and show our personality.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Having faced them 42 times in his playing career, Xavi will take on Madrid for the third time this season - the second at the Bernabeu - with both sides having won a game each by a 3-1 scoreline. The most recent meeting gave the 43-year-old Spaniard his first trophy as Barca boss, the Supercopa de Espana, although having lost his last two matches in all competitions and without the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele through injury, preparations for Thursday's match have been far from ideal.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty Images
DID YOU KNOW? Out of the 42 occasions Xavi faced Madrid during his playing career, the former midfielder boasts a record of 17 wins, 12 draws and 13 defeats, in which time he scored five times and provided 10 assists.
WHAT NEXT FOR BARCA? After facing their rivals on Thursday, Xavi's side will then host this season's underperformers Valencia on Sunday in La Liga, who currently sit 18th in the table.