‘How do you take the ball from Toni Kroos and Luka Modric?’ - Xavi reacts to Barcelona’s Clasico win over Real Madrid with 35% possession

Toni Kroos Sergio Busquets Real Madrid Barcelona 2022-23Getty
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WHAT HAPPENED? The Blaugrana left Santiago Bernabeu with a narrow 1-0 victory to take back with them to Camp Nou for the second leg of a heavyweight semi-final showdown, with Eder Militao putting through his own net midway through the first half. Barca created little else, firing in only four shots in total, and Xavi concedes that his side found it difficult to contend with another ball retention masterclass from midfield maestros Modric and Kroos.

WHAT THEY SAID: Barcelona’s boss told reporters afterwards of his team posting their lowest possession percentage score in a Clasico clash since 2013-14: “The result is very positive. I’m happy with the work and solid defence. We minimised Real Madrid in their stadium. The game was difficult. The victory is tremendous. We didn’t know how to keep the ball, it was difficult for us to win duels on the field. We have defended well without the ball. We have fought well without the ball. The people are supportive. I am satisfied, but we have to improve with the ball: we cannot give the opponent dominance. I am satisfied with the result and not so much with the match.

“The plan was different. We wanted to dominate in the rival’s stadium... But today we couldn’t. We weren’t neat with the ball. Madrid didn’t have clear chances. It’s a very important victory for us. Today we cannot boast. This is not the game we want. We want to generate more scoring chances. It is not the game we want. They dominated us with the ball. How do you take the ball from Kroos and Modric? They have to be valued and they’re extraordinary”.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Xavi added on Barcelona seeing little of the ball - with his tactical approach all about adopting the tiki-taka, pass and move system that he once formed part of under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage: “They have dominated us with the ball. They are still favourites. I’m not satisfied with 35% possession. It’s not the percentage we’re looking for.”



Frenkie de Jong Toni Kroos Barcelona Real Madrid 2022-23Getty Images

Xavi Carlo Ancelotti Real Madrid Barcelona Copa del Rey 2022-23Getty Images

DID YOU KNOW? Real Madrid registered their highest possession tally in El Clasico (64.7) in all competitions since 2013-14 season, with Barcelona registering their lowest tally in this period in any game from any competition (35.3%).

WHAT NEXT? Barcelona have four La Liga games, including another meeting with Real at Camp Nou, to take in before facing Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey encounter on April 5.

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