Despite losing 3-2 after extra time in a dramatic Spanish Supercopa semifinal in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez praised his team’s effort against Real Madrid.
After Luuk de Jong and Ansu Fati had previously balanced out goals from Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema, Madrid won their 100th Clasico with a goal from Federico Valverde in the 98th minute.
Xavi was pleased with what he saw in defeat on a day when Pedri and Ansu returned from long-term injuries and €55 million newcomer Ferran Torres made his Barca debut.
“I’m unhappy and irritated because the game was there for us to take,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde stated after the game.
We had a difficult first 20 minutes, but we got through it. It had proven to be a daring afternoon. This Barcelona team can compete with anyone. We didn’t get the expected result, but it was a step in the right direction. My feelings are torn since we are so close to victory. I’m disappointed because we didn’t win the Clasico and don’t have a trophy, but we dominated Madrid for long periods.” We committed errors. We might have prevented [Madrid’s] counter-attacks and been more responsible with the ball. But we’re getting there.”
At the King Fahd Stadium, Barcelona had 20 shots to Madrid’s 14 and controlled the ball for 53 percent of the time. Madrid, on the other hand, had the better opportunities, with Benzema hitting the crossbar in the second half and Rodrygo Goes squandering a late chance to make it 4-2 in extra time.
Carlo Ancelotti, Barcelona’s manager, disagreed with Xavi’s appraisal of the game but praised the team’s effort in Riyadh.
“I disagree with Xavi; the game was level, they had more possession, and we exploited the counter,” Madrid coach Jose Mourinho remarked.
“We deserved to win in the first half, but we were unlucky.” The second half was more evenly contested, with neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona gaining an advantage. Madrid was dominated.
“We left to enjoy the counter. The counter-attack was successful. We made some great plays, and the three goals were outstanding. To be honest, it’s a tie. It was a terrific presentation, and we did a good job representing Spanish football. Barcelona, in my perspective, also played well.”
Madrid, who will face Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final on Sunday, welcomed back Dani Carvajal after David Alaba’s late injury. We’re hoping to have Alaba available this weekend, according to Ancelotti. After recuperating from a thigh injury, Barcelona midfielder Pedri made his first appearance in September, while Ansu scored his first goal for the club. the fifth goal of the season after returning from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since November.
Torres, who joined from Manchester City last month, also made his full debut, and Xavi feels all three players will be crucial to the club’s aspirations of finishing in the top four in LaLiga this season. They are presently ranked sixth.
Those three will be really useful to us, Xavi said. After a timeout, Pedri and Ferran need minutes and the flow of the game, but Ansu has answered promptly with a goal. This season, they will all make significant contributions.”
While Madrid is in Saudi Arabia preparing for the final on Sunday, Barcelona will have a free weekend. They play Athletic in the Copa del Rey the following Wednesday.