'Barca are on the right track' – Xavi upbeat despite Supercopa semi-final defeat to Real Madrid

By Sports Desk January 12, 2022

Xavi believes Barcelona are "on the right track" despite their 3-2 Supercopa de Espana semi-final defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Federico Valverde scored the decisive goal in extra time after Ansu Fati had equalised with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

Vinicius Junior had earlier put Los Blancos ahead but Luuk de Jong restored parity before the interval, the Netherlands international scoring in three straight games for the first time since arriving in Spain.

Karim Benzema restored Madrid's lead before Fati brought Barca back on level terms.

Barca had 20 shots in the defeat, with six on target – their highest tally in an El Clasico since April 2006, when they had 35 under Frank Rijkaard.

Xavi was pleased with his side's display and said his players could be proud of their efforts.

"I think we were better than Madrid in terms of play, dominance, and we had the game under control," he told Movistar.

"We took a lot of risks and we knew how to control transitions, and this is the way to compete.

"In the end we had the match and if you toss a coin and it comes up heads, nobody would have said anything, but tails came up.

"We can go away proud because we have competed against them and it is a step forward despite the result. 

"We are on the right track and while it was not a turning point in terms of the result, it was in terms of how we played and how we felt."

The result was Madrid's fifth consecutive win over Barca in all competitions – only the second time they have achieved this after a run of seven straight wins between 1962 and 1965.

Despite that, Gerard Pique was pleased with Barca's performance and predicts there are brighter days ahead for the Catalan giants.

"I think we competed very well," he said. "It is not the result we expected; losing against Madrid hurts but we are closer to winning. We need to win; we need that definitive step.

"We played well. We took risks and we have gone for the game. They arrived in the area with many players and they scored a goal but playing like this we are going to win.

"We should leave with our heads held high after competing like that against Madrid."

Related items

  • Page sacked as Wales manager Page sacked as Wales manager

    Wales have sacked manager Rob Page following the country's failure to qualify for Euro 2024.

    The 49-year-old was initially given the job on an interim basis in November 2020, taking over from Ryan Giggs, before being appointed permanently in September 2022.

    Page took charge of 45 games for the national team, winning 15 of those matches.

    He oversaw the team at two major tournaments, reaching the round of 16 at Euro 2020, and led Wales to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, though they exited in the group stage after earning only one point.

    Wales were agonisingly short of qualifying for a third consecutive European Championships, losing on penalties to Poland in their play-off final in March.

    Despite being backed by the Football Association of Wales (FAW) following that result, Page then came under heavy criticism following a goalless draw with minnows Gibraltar and a 4-0 thrashing by Slovakia in their June friendlies, leading to his contract being terminated.

  • Philadelphia Union v Charlotte FC: Baribo frustrated despite goalscoring form Philadelphia Union v Charlotte FC: Baribo frustrated despite goalscoring form

    Tai Baribo did not feel he could fully enjoy scoring his first league goals for the Philadelphia Union, as he set his sights on helping the team turn around their form.

    The Union slipped to a second straight defeat in MLS as they went down 4-3 to FC Cincinnati in midweek, despite Baribo's double.

    Indeed, Philadelphia have now gone without a win in their last five MLS games.

    That run has seen the Union drop to 10th in the Eastern Conference, five places behind Charlotte FC, their opponents this weekend.

    "I mean, it's hard to enjoy," Baribo said after the defeat to Cincinnati.

    "Of course, I'm happy because I scored, but we lost again. The team is the most important thing, and if we lose I can't be happy.

    "Thank you to the coach for giving me this opportunity and I'm happy that I took it. I felt good in the game, but in the end, we lost, so it doesn't matter."

    Union coach Jum Curtin was full of praise for Baribo's display.

    Curtin said: "He's worked hard to get this start, and now, he’s certainly left a really good impression with the coaches, put in a great shift, and will certainly get more playing time.

    "Tai worked hard in training and we rewarded him. He stepped on the field and gave us everything and did a really good job for us.

    "He earned the start and like a good professional, he took advantage of his opportunity. So, I’m happy for Tai. It was something to build on, but I know he would trade the two goals for some points as well. He did a good job finishing his plays off in the box like a good striker and hopefully there's more of that in the future."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Philadelphia Union - Kai Wagner

    Wagner assisted two of the Union’s three goals on Wednesday against Cincinnati, his seventh career MLS match with multiple assists, more than any other defender since he joined the league in 2019.

    Charlotte FC - Kerwin Vargas

    Vargas scored Charlotte's opener in their 2-2 draw with Orlando City last time out, taking his tally to the season to four goals in MLS. He is their leading scorer.

    MATCH PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA UNION WIN

    Charlotte earned a draw against Orlando on Wednesday despite Scott Arfield receiving a red card in the 38th minute. The 52 minutes playing a man down were the longest by a team that avoided defeat in an MLS match in over two years, since the Houston Dynamo against Nashville SC in May 2022 (55 minutes).

    Dean Smith's team have lost only one of its last nine matches (W5 D3) dating back to the beginning of May, one of six teams with fewer than two defeats in that time (Real Salt Lake, FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC).

    Philadelphia have won only one of its last 12 matches (D5 L6) including losing the last two in a row. The Union have not lost three straight regular-season matches within a single season since May 2017.

    However, they are backed to win this one by Opta's model.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Philadelphia Union - 50.7%

    Charlotte - 24.3%

    Draw - 25%

  • Romeu named new head coach of Barcelona Femeni Romeu named new head coach of Barcelona Femeni

    Barcelona have announced Pere Romeu as their new head coach following Jonatan Giraldez's departure.

    Romeu, who was an assistant coach at the club in the last three seasons, has signed a two-year contract until 2026.

    The 30-year-old takes over following a successful season for Barcelona in which they won the quadruple, lifting the Champions League, Liga F, Copa de la Reina and the Supercopa de Espana Femenia.

    Giraldez had confirmed in December 2023 that he would be leaving the club at the end of the campaign, and it was announced in January he would be joining NWSL club Washington Spirit.

    "I have been with the team for three seasons, and I know their day-to-day life. I'm 100 per cent ready," Romeu said in his first interview as head coach.

    Romeu coached in Barcelona men's youth set-up between 2017 and 2020 before joining Romanian side Viitorul Constanta as an assistant coach before making the move back to Catalonia to join Barcelona Femeni in 2021.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.