Barcelona are not known for their optimism generally, but with a number of injuries and two straight defeats, there is a definite concern in the Catalan capital about their upcoming Copa del Rey semi-final with Real Madrid.
With the second leg not for another month, there is a feeling amongst some that just getting out of the Bernabeu alive would be a decent outcome. One journalist even asked if a narrow loss would be considered a good result, in light of the injuries and the form of the team. Xavi Hernandez did admit to the press that their rivals were favourites.
“They won the last titles and we are in the process of building. We beat them with extraordinary football last year, but it is also a Madrid that thrashed in Liverpool, at their stadium. I have to be honest, I see them as favourites, clearly. We are talking about the current champions of La Liga and Europe. But we can hurt them, we already shown that we can do it. I think the tie will be very even.”
He was also asked on multiple occasions as to whether there was fear or concern within the Barcelona squad, especially given the potential impact on momentum.
“Fear gives us negative things, we have to think positively. We have competed well so far. We will compete face to face. We will show our football model and personality.”
“We are fine. From within we analyse the reasons for the defeat, and it is a football issue. Each game is its own story. We are in an ideal and privileged situation to win titles. In La Liga we have a seven-point advantage. It can go wrong, but we’re working.”
All the same, as Xavi explained to the media that he was ‘euphoric’ to be where he is given where they have come from, it seemed as if he was trying a little to hard to convince the room of that positivity he speaks of.
The message of going to compete was very different from that of Carlo Ancelotti, who spoke of going out there to gain an advantage.