Barcelona sealed a seventh straight LaLiga win as Luuk de Jong's stoppage-time header earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over a Levante side who were awarded three penalties.

Jose Luis Morales' penalty seven minutes after the interval handed the hosts the lead, and they could have been 2-0 up moments later, yet Roger Marti's spot-kick was kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona took advantage of that reprieve, moving 2-1 ahead within seven minutes of the miss thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pedri.

Levante thought they had claimed a point when Gonzalo Melero slammed home from the spot with seven minutes remaining, but substitute De Jong popped up in added time to claim yet another maximum-points haul for the Blaugrana.

Ronaldinho believes Barcelona can chase down LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after his former Blaugrana team-mate Xavi restored "hope" at the club.

Barca have surged up the table after appointing Xavi as boss last November, climbing from ninth to third following a 14-game unbeaten run in the Spanish top flight, including a 4-0 Clasico thumping of Madrid,

That undefeated streak is the longest ongoing run in Europe's top-five leagues, and Barca have won six LaLiga matches in a row, keeping a clean sheet in the past three games.

Barca's next task will be a trip to Levante on Sunday as the Catalan club search for four straight wins in the competition without conceding for the first time since December 2018.

And Ronaldinho, who played with Xavi during his five-year spell at Barca between 2003 and 2008, believes the former midfielder has brought the faith back for the Blaugrana supporters.

"I have returned to take a good look at Barça with Xavi, who has returned and has brought us hope," he told Mundo Deportivo. 

"As my friend and former team-mate that he is, this excites people and me too. When he played, he already had a vision of the game as a coach. 

"He guided the game and I see it very well because he makes us want to watch Barca games again."

Barca evoked memories of the 2003-04 season, when they defeated Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu before making a late title charge, by demolishing Carlo Ancelotti's side on the road last month.

Xavi's team would move 12 points behind Madrid with victory at Levante, while still having a game in hand, and Ronaldinho says they can win the title.

"[The 2003-04 season win at Madrid] was a very nice comeback that we have had in our time and it can happen again," he added. 

"As I said, we are excited that Barca will play well again and I think anything is possible."

Pressed on whether Barca could complete the unthinkable turnaround to steal the LaLiga title from Madrid, the Brazil great responded: "I hope so and as a fan I am hoping that things go well and I think there can be."

While uncertainty remains where the LaLiga title will be heading when the season concludes, one thing is for sure; Ronaldinho has no intentions of entering management or coaching any time soon.

"The truth is that I have never seen myself this way, it may be that in the future I will, when I have more patience," he said when asked if he would join Xavi as his assistant. 

"It's difficult when you leave football and you have a way of looking at it, wanting others to do things that are very difficult for them to do. So, I still have no patience."

Xavi had no issue with Dani Alves' controversial opinion on Erling Haaland's worth, saying he would forgive his former Barcelona team-mate for anything. 

Alves, 38, is back at Barca as a veteran player under Xavi, having featured alongside the coach in hugely successful Blaugrana teams earlier this century. 

Xavi has enjoyed being able to work with his old colleague again, but Barca have their sights set on rather more ambitious signings at the end of this season. 

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland has regularly been linked with a move to Camp Nou, although Barca are far from alone in admiring a striker whose contract reportedly includes a €75million release clause. 

However, right-back Alves has claimed Kylian Mbappe – widely expected to join rivals Real Madrid – "is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game". 

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland," the Brazil defender told Sport. "Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him." 

Alves' employers Barca, on the other hand, may well be up for splashing out on the 21-year-old – but that does not mean Xavi was concerned by his player's comments. 

"I forgive Dani everything, anything he says," the Barca boss said at a media conference ahead of Sunday's game against Levante. "He's a phenomenon, really. 

"Sometimes you guys complain that you don't have headlines, right? Well, with Dani, it's hard to choose just one. He is a phenomenon. 

"The truth is that the signing of him has gone very well for us, he is a natural leader. It is a spectacle, both for us and for you." 

On Haaland, Xavi added: "We'll see. Yes, we are planning for next year, but let's see. The situation is not easy, especially financially, economically." 

Whether Barca can afford the type of sums required to both sign and pay Haaland remains to be seen, but Xavi is confident he has the club's backing. 

"[The club] know my priorities," he said. "From here on, whatever we can do, well, we are going to do it, but it is true that we have to be very prudent and very cautious because the economic situation is what it is." 

Xavi called on Barcelona fans to make Camp Nou "a pressure cooker" after they drew 1-1 against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Ansgar Knauff gave Eintracht the lead with a fine finish early in the second half at a raucous Deutsche Bank Park on Thursday, but Ferran Torres equalised after a brilliant exchange with Frenkie de Jong. 

The Bundesliga side saw Tuta sent off with just over 10 minutes remaining following a second bookable offence, but Barca were unable to pinch a winner in the closing stages. 

However, by avoiding defeat their unbeaten run stretched to 14 games – their best streak since January-May 2019 under Ernesto Valverde. 

Barca had almost two-thirds of the possession but mustered fewer than half the attempts on goal of Eintracht, who were a persistent threat on the counter-attack. 

Xavi felt his team were hindered by the state of the pitch and hopes a fiery atmosphere in Catalonia in next Thursday's second leg can help the Blaugrana advance to the semi-finals. 

"They were a very physical opponent. They got forward like hell in transitions. We didn't have the ball circulation and the state of the pitch didn't help us," Xavi told Movistar. 

"We leave quite satisfied and Camp Nou will have to be a pressure cooker, like it was in their stadium. 

"Normally the team that's in control creates more, but we were not able to stop their devilish counter-attacks. We had already been warned – they eliminated a team like [Real] Betis [in the last 16]." 

Gerard Pique hobbled off in the first half with an apparent groin injury but Xavi was unable to provide a meaningful update on the centre-back. 

Sergio Busquets, who would have given a penalty away for a tackle on Rafael Borre had it not been for VAR, acknowledged Barca will need to be better in the second leg. 

"The goal gives us a lot of life because we had come to win but it was very difficult," said Busquets. 

"There are things to improve. We will do better in the second leg with our fans and a pitch that will surely be better and faster. 

"Barca are always a candidate to win everything. We had a period that wasn't the best but we're doing things well. 

"We respect all the teams. Anything can happen and we will try to win." 

Barca have progressed in three of the five knockout rounds in Europe's secondary competition after drawing the first leg away from home. They were eliminated in the last such instance by Bayern Munich in the 1995-96 season. 

Xavi has reiterated his admiration for Ousmane Dembele's professionalism as the Barcelona boss confirmed negotiations over a new contract for the winger were under way.

Dembele was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window, after contract talks broke down.

The France international's current deal runs out at the end of the season, meaning he will be able to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.

However, with no move having materialised before the end of January, Dembele has been reintegrated into Xavi's squad and seems to have rediscovered his form.

Dembele has started Barca's last four LaLiga matches, providing five assists across those appearances.

The 24-year-old also scored and teed up two other goals as a substitute in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the end of February.

On Tuesday, with Barca's squad given a day off ahead of travelling to Germany for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, Dembele was spotted going to the club's training ground, with reports stating that he did extra physical work.

"He's an example in the way he trains, the way he plays, his attitude and commitment," Xavi told a news conference when asked about Dembele. 

"I don't know how he was before but I've got no complaints. I see a very happy, very motivated player and with his winning attitude.

"He's happy and comfortable here and so that's not a surprise that he trained on his day off. He's a great professional, I said that when he wasn't playing as well."

Dembele created seven chances in Barca's win over Sevilla on Sunday, also providing the pass for Pedri's goal in a 1-0 victory.

Earlier this week, Barca executive Mateu Alemany reportedly met with Dembele's agent to restart negotiations over a new deal, and this speculation was confirmed by Xavi.

"It is a negotiation. We are also in talks with Ronald [Araujo], Gavi, Sergi Roberto, it is a process," he said.

"The club knows my priorities and we are working. Hopefully Dembele can stay, with work he can be the best in his position.

"The club is working hard and I hope they decide to stay. Gavi, Araujo, Dembele... if we can have them next year we'll be a better team and squad."

Xavi was equally as effusive in his praise for Araujo, who he revealed has agreed to fresh terms.

"For us he is a guarantee and Barcelona have a central defender for ten years or more," Xavi said.

"There are few central defenders in the world like him. He has been the key in the negotiation. He is very humble, direct, he is a luxury.

"I am delighted. As a person he is a hard worker. Barcelona fans can be proud that he has decided to stay at Barcelona."

Pedri is among the best players in world football, so says his Barcelona club-mate Ferran Torres.

Barca midfielder Pedri is enjoying another fine season after his breakout campaign at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

Though the early part of his season was hindered by injury, Pedri has emerged as a crucial figure as Xavi has rejuvenated Barca since taking over from Ronald Koeman.

Having missed the final three months of 2021, Pedri's 2022 has been brilliant so far, and he scored an exquisite goal against Sevilla in a 1-0 LaLiga win on Sunday.

The 19-year-old Spain international also netted against Galatasaray to help Barca progress to the Europa League quarter-finals, with Eintracht Frankfurt next up.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's clash in Germany, Torres said that is a "luxury" to play alongside such a talent.

"It doesn't surprise us," Torres told a news conference when asked about Pedri's form.

"Seeing him every day is a luxury, he has great quality and how he's handling it, with humility."

Torres also spoke glowingly of coach Xavi, whose team are unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions and are now up to second in LaLiga.

"Xavi has transmitted his confidence to me from the first day. I'm in good shape and helping the team," the former Manchester City forward added.

Barca are facing Frankurt for the first time in their history. The Bundesliga club have never lost at home in major European competition in the quarter-finals and beyond (P16 W12 D4 L0) – this is the most such games any side has ever played in major European competition without being defeated.

And Torres insisted overconfidence will be no issue.

"The coach makes it clear to us that we have to go game by game because if you lose tomorrow, nobody remembers the dynamic. Humility, work and desire to achieve victory," he said.

"It is the first step to fight for that Europa League and we will do everything on our part to achieve it."

Xavi promised Barcelona will "keep fighting" until it is mathematically impossible to win the LaLiga title after moving into second place on Sunday.

A hard-fought 1-0 win against Sevilla at Camp Nou came thanks to a well-taken Pedri goal, and it saw Barca leapfrog their opponents and Atletico Madrid in the table.

They remain 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, but Barca ended Sevilla's 15-game unbeaten run in the league, and are now undefeated in 14 LaLiga games themselves.

Speaking after the victory, Xavi was upbeat despite the big gap between his team and Madrid, who Barcelona thrashed 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in their last game away from home.

"I am very positive, I believe in work, effort, sacrifice and collective work," Xavi told reporters. "We are very good. We are supportive, we all work, we run. With this base, the results should come.

"This is the best moment of the season. We have dominated a great opponent, with the best defence in LaLiga. [Sevilla] are a super team, and [Julen] Lopetegui is a magnificent coach."

Barca have now kept a clean sheet in three consecutive league games at Camp Nou for the first time since a run of four between February and June in 2020.

Xavi said his team did not think about "sending a message", but he was pleased with the efforts of the fans and insisted the players will try to chase down Madrid.

"We didn't send a message to anyone," he added. "We sent it to ourselves. We won and enjoyed ourselves.

"The atmosphere was extraordinary. And in LaLiga, as long as the numbers don't say otherwise, we'll keep fighting."

The Blaugrana head coach also had words of praise for the match-winner, suggesting that teenager Pedri "has no comparison".

"He is a super player," said an enthused Xavi. "He has scored an extraordinary goal. He makes a difference. It is a spectacle to watch him play, and he is only 19 years old.

"It does not surprise me. He has no comparison. I encourage him to shoot, but he is a passer and he has in mind the last pass, the decisive one. But he doesn't realise that he has to try [to shoot]. Today he scored a great goal."

Pedri was pleased with that strike and is enjoying playing in an emerging Barca side under Xavi. The teenager has scored two goals in his last seven LaLiga games, as many as in his previous 34 appearance in the competition. This was also his first goal from outside the box for the Catalan giants.

"[The goal was] similar to the one in Turkey [against Galatasaray in the Europa League]," Pedri told reporters after the game.

"We press better [under Xavi], more calm, and we have a lot of firepower with the [January] signings.

"We know that it is difficult [to catch Madrid], but we are Barca, and we have to fight to be first."

Xavi refused to be drawn on talk of Barcelona signing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger ahead of Sunday's LaLiga showdown with Sevilla.

Sahr Senesie, Rudiger's half-brother and agent, was this week pictured entering a hotel in Barcelona with Blaugrana director of football Mateu Alemany and technical director Jordi Cruyff.

The Germany centre-back is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and has been free to talk to clubs from overseas since January.

But Barca head coach Xavi is focused on masterminding a win at Camp Nou this weekend that would move his side above Sevilla into second place, rather than potential new recruits.

He said during a press conference on Saturday: "I'm not going to talk about signings, we have a lot at stake. It is true that Mateu, Jordi and the board are working for next season, but our [job] is to go for second place tomorrow."

Ousmane Dembele is in a similar situation to Rudiger, with his Barca deal expiring at the conclusion of the campaign.

Xavi praised the France winger's professionalism amid uncertainty over his future and says only the 24-year-old can decide where he will be playing next season.

He said: "I haven't had a single complaint about Dembele at a professional level since I arrived. He's a footballer of many levels, well worked, I still think he can be the best in his position. It's up to him, the renewal depends on him."

Meanwhile, the Barca boss is optimistic Gavi and Ronald Araujo, who are both under contract until the end of next season, will sign new deals.

"The club cannot afford to lose Gavi and Araujo, they are very important to us and I show it with the minutes I give them. I am optimistic and I hope a solution is reached," Xavi said.

Barca are unbeaten in 12 matches and have won five consecutive games in the Spanish top flight, the last of which was a 4-0 Clasico thrashing of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu before the international break.

The Catalan giants are 12 points adrift of Los Blancos with a game in hand and Xavi has demanded they maintain their momentum at the expense of Sevilla.

"The message is to continue, not to let our guard down, not to relax," he said. "The Bernabeu was good, but the goals are to be as high as possible in the league and win the Europa League." 

The coach added: "The break could have been good for us. It is a final sprint in which we have to grit our teeth."

Luuk de Jong will not face his parent club after testing positive for coronavirus, while Sergino Dest, Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto are ruled out due to injury.

Football is fickle. It doesn't take long for outlooks and perceptions to be flipped on their head, and nowhere is that truer right now than in LaLiga.

As recently as mid-February, Real Madrid's lead at the summit – which they have held since matchday three – was only four points over Sevilla, who themselves were 11 ahead of a Barcelona side languishing in fifth.

But as we head into Sunday's clash between Barca and Sevilla at Camp Nou, the Blaugrana know they will go up to second and above Julen Lopetegui's men in the table with a win, and they'd still have a game in hand.

Xavi has overseen a massive improvement and, following the 4-0 Clasico win prior to the international break, Barca have the opportunity to make another statement this weekend.

It's not over yet

While sympathy will be in short supply given what's been a largely excellent season for them in LaLiga, Sevilla have undoubtedly gone through a tricky period.

When Anthony Martial was brought in on loan from Manchester United in late January, it was initially seen as a move that would go one of two ways: the Frenchman was either going to be electric and give Sevilla the extra push they needed to challenge Madrid, or he would fail to get over the ineffectiveness that had begun to engulf him at Old Trafford.

Suffice to say Martial will not be back at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan next season – or at least not as a Sevilla player.

Lopetegui has had to contend with something of an injury crisis for much of the past three months, which to a certain degree makes it surprising they are only nine points off the top. Further to that, if Sevilla avoid defeat at Barca, they will set a new club record for their best unbeaten run in a single top-flight season (16 games).

 

But that stat flatters them, significantly. Of the most recent nine games in that run, Sevilla have won just twice. Five of their seven draws have come away from home against mostly mid-table opposition, plus struggling Deportivo Alaves. They've not scored more than twice in any league game since October.

As such, it's difficult to see how they can contend with a reinvigorated and in-form Barcelona this weekend – but whichever way it goes, assuming it's not a draw, there's every reason to believe Sunday's showdown could genuinely reignite a title race.

Polar opposites

While victory for Barca would propel them up to second for the first time this season, they will also still have a game in hand on Los Blancos. A nine-point deficit won't be easy to turn around over nine matches, but Madrid do still have trips to Atletico and Sevilla to traverse, and they have the added 'distraction' of the Champions League, at least for the time being.

A win for Sevilla would be momentous, not least because they've failed to get a single league success at Camp Nou since December 2002.

Such a scalp over a team that has won seven more points (from one game fewer) in 2022 could be the boost a flagging Sevilla need to finish the season strong. It would surely improve their belief ahead of Madrid's visit next month.

But at this point, Barca look far more likely to offer a threat to Madrid in the final weeks of the season, with Sevilla's slide in the second half of 2021-22 threatening to completely derail their campaign.

Frustrated by a lack of goals and an almost chronic inability to convert draws into wins, Los Nervionenses have won just four league games this year. While their lack of defeats is commendable, they've scored more than only six teams in 2022 – a group that includes each of the bottom four in the table.

 

Lopetegui has been rightly praised throughout his time at Sevilla for building a team that is extremely difficult to break down, with only Manchester City (53) bettering their 49 clean sheets across the big five leagues since his appointment in 2019, and that's obviously played a part in their unbeaten run.

But there have been numerous times in the past few months where fans have been crying out for more attacking emphasis, and it's for this reason that it's hard to imagine Lopetegui was ever truly a candidate to take over at Manchester United before he ruled himself out, even if he was genuinely on their four-man shortlist.

Whereas Barcelona, whose dealings in January really ignited something in Xavi's squad, have scored 27 goals since the turn of the year and also been tight at the back, with their seven concessions only bettered by Sevilla.

Something has to give

A potentially key aspect of Sunday's showdown will be how well Barca press. No one has scored more goals (six) than them from high turnovers in LaLiga this season, with four of those coming since Xavi's appointment.

Playing into that is the fact Sevilla like to play out from the back. This is reflected by them seeing 222 high turnovers recorded against them this season, the third most in LaLiga, but only two have led to a goal – just three teams have conceded fewer goals from such situations.

This is evidence of how effective Sevilla are regrouping, but such an approach will be risky against a Barca side in such imperious goal-scoring form and clearly useful at winning the ball back in advanced areas – Osasuna (253) are the one team with more high turnovers than the Blaugrana (248).

Turning over Madrid's lead in LaLiga will be a rather different proposition, but success on Sunday certainly won't dampen Barca's outlook.

Sergio Busquets has revealed Xavi struggled to make an immediate impact as Barcelona head coach – confusing players with his plans.

The return of club legend Xavi to Camp Nou was announced by Barcelona on November 5, after a rocky start to the season under Ronald Koeman's leadership.

Barcelona lost four of their last six matches during Koeman's tenure, before caretaker Sergi Barjuan temporarily stabilised matters ahead of Xavi's arrival from Al Sadd, the Qatari club where he launched his coaching career.

Despite his celebrated playing days, which saw him make 767 appearances for Barcelona – only Lionel Messi has managed more – Xavi was untested at LaLiga level as a coach and did not initially convince everyone in the current squad.

There were sticky results in his first two months, but since the turn of the year Barcelona are unbeaten in LaLiga, with a 4-0 thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last time out emphasising their improvement.

It would take a major turnaround still for Xavi's side to leapfrog Madrid at the top of the table, given they trail by 12 points with just one game in hand, but Barcelona's belief is soaring.

Busquets said: "He's worked hard, especially early on. It wasn't easy because a lot of players didn't understand his ideas and he's had to work hard to get things to improve.

"He has changed a lot and brought in his own staff. I think he learned a lot under Pep [Guardiola]. We veterans try to help him, but not just with the idea and not just with Xavi, we always have done to make sure the young players come through and adapt properly."

If they beat Sevilla on Sunday, Barcelona will go second in the Spanish top flight, a prospect that seemed unlikely when the team sat ninth as Koeman departed.

Xavi starred in the great Pep Guardiola teams at Barcelona and will have taken many of his teachings from the influential coach, who is now at Manchester City.

To win LaLiga in his first season will probably be beyond Xavi, given the substantial lead Madrid have, but next term promises to see the great rivals in a serious title battle.

"We still have our hopes in the league, but all we can do is win and hope," Busquets said in an interview with RAC 1. "We are on good form and have the right mentality to at least make sure we have a chance."

At the age of 33, Busquets has a year left on his Barcelona contract and could then follow Xavi into coaching, another great Barcelona stalwart taking on a tracksuit role.

First stop for Busquets after Barcelona is likely to be outside Europe, if he elects to play on. Like Xavi, who saw out his playing days in Qatar, Busquets cannot stomach the thought of competing against Barcelona.

"I'd find it very hard to go elsewhere in Europe and play for a team that's chasing the same things as Barca," he said. "I can only really see myself going to play in a different continent."

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard described the appointment of Xavi as head coach by Barcelona as a "masterstroke".

Xavi has made an impressive start to life in the Camp Nou dugout and enjoyed a resounding 4-0 thrashing of El Clasico rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu before the international break.

The former Spain and Barca midfielder was hired after the October sacking of Ronald Koeman, having previously coached Qatari side Al Sadd.

Speaking after a charity match between Liverpool and Barcelona legends at Anfield on Saturday, Gerrard – now in charge at Aston Villa – applauded the return of Xavi when speaking to Barca's media team.

"I think with the appointment of Xavi, it was a masterstroke by Barcelona," he said. "[He is] someone who has got Barcelona in his DNA and who has been a world-class player for many years.

"He obviously knows the style and what all the Barcelona people want to see. And after some challenging times it looks as if they're getting back to where they need to be.

"It was obviously a huge result against Real Madrid, and as a fan of Barcelona from afar, it's good to see them back and firing well."

The Clasico win meant Xavi became just the third coach in LaLiga history to win his first Clasico match by four or more goals, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 and Helenio Herrera in 1959.

The Blaugrana are on a 13-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga and won their past five league games, scoring four in all but one of those.

"As a coach in my position you're always trying to learn off everyone you can," Gerrard continued. "There's a lot of media around Xavi because obviously he was a world-class player. He's someone I have the utmost respect for as a player and I'm obviously watching him as a coach as well.

"He's on a similar journey to myself, very young, very new. I'm sure he's learning a lot every day like myself, but I'd like to give him a personal good luck message. I hope he makes it a big success and I'd love to see him at Barcelona for many years."

Gerrard scored in the 2-1 win for Barca's legends on Merseyside, with Rivaldo and Giovanni netting for the visitors.

Barcelona have re-established themselves this term after a strong January transfer window.

Barca head coach Xavi, appointed in November, has overseen a major form reversal culminating in last week's 4-0 Clasico win.

The Blaugrana have their sights set on more additions as they continue to re-build after Lionel Messi's exit last year.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA SET SIGHTS ON SALAH

Barcelona boss Xavi is determined to land Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , claims Mundo Deportivo.

The cash-strapped Catalans have switched their attention from the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Salah is yet to re-sign with Liverpool where he is out of contract in 2023.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he will not put the club at financial risk in order to sign Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano for Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool will not pursue West Ham United's Declan Rice amid interest from several clubs in the England international midfielder, claims Football Insider.

- Leeds United has rejected a £29million bid from  Barcelona  for 25-year-old Brazilian winger  Raphinha , whose release clause is set at £60million, according to Sport.

- Arsenal midfielder  Granit Xhaka  remains a transfer target for  Roma head coach Jose Mourinho, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to the Daily Mail, Wolves and Portugal winger  Pedro Neto  is on  Paris Saint-Germain's  wanted list.

Barcelona head coach Xavi and captain Sergio Busquets have both not ruled out a remarkable late title push after their stunning 4-0 Clasico victory.

The Blaugrana overwhelmed league-leading Real Madrid with a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with strikes from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The victory means third-placed Barcelona have 54 points from 28 games, but still trail Madrid by 12 points although the Catalans do have a game in hand.

But Barcelona have been buoyed by an exceptional turnaround in form since Xavi's arrival as boss along with their flurry of January transfers which have boosted the side.

The Blaugrana are on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga while they have won their past five league games.

Barcelona has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closure of the January transfer window too, offering them momentum.

"I don't know if we can win the title, we can't rule out anything," Xavi told reporters after the Clasico. "Maybe we're a bit late, but this is a very big win for us.

"We were much better than Real Madrid. We played almost as a home team in the the ground. It's a day to enjoy, not only as a Barca manager but also a fan.

"We could easily have scored five or six. We changed our negative dynamic of losing the last few Clasicos."

Busquets reiterated Xavi's sentiment that Barca retained some title hope, albeit small.

"If we still have a small chance to make a run for the title, we will fight until the end," the 33-year-old midfielder said. "It's very difficult but in football anything can happen. We are Barca."

In just three words, Barcelona centre back Gerard Pique summed up the feelings of Blaugrana die-hards after beating Real Madrid 4-0: "We are back."

It was a stunning display away from home at the Santiago Bernabeu for Xavi's side, netting two goals in each half to spin the Spanish football world on its axis for a night.

Pique played all 90 minutes alongside centre back partner Eric Garcia, marshalling a stout defence to a stylish clean sheet and providing an outlet for the Barcelona midfielders as they retained 60 percent of possession.

Barca are now on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga, with six wins and four draws, as well as making it through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they will play Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Camp Nou club also has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closing of the January transfer window, sporting a goal-difference of plus-21 during that span.

Since Xavi took over in early November, Barcelona have taken 37 points from 16 LaLiga games, while Madrid have claimed 39 from 17 outings, indicating the rivalry may be much closer than this season's table indicates.

Barcelona head coach Xavi said the 4-0 Clasico thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu was the perfect template for how he wants his side to play.

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and goals from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres sealed a memorable win for the Blaugrana, who had lost their previous five games against Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders.

The win meant Xavi became just the third coach to win his first Clasico match by four or more goals in LaLiga history, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 and Helenio Herrera in 1959.

Barca were superior to their hosts in every department and Xavi believes his side can be a match for anyone if they continue to perform at that standard.

"We didn't expect to be so superior at their stadium," he told a media conference.

"They've had a rest week and we arrived from Turkey [after playing Galatasaray] on Friday. We played a spectacular game and I leave very satisfied.

"We have been far superior to Madrid, in the game and the result. We leave with tremendous satisfaction and a smile from ear to ear.

"I'm very happy for Barcelona for what it represents. It can change the dynamics of the present and future.

"Has Barca returned? I'll leave it to you. But yes, this is the idea and the game model to follow. We have very good players and they enjoy themselves on the pitch.

"And I would highlight how they work, how they help the team. We are a family in the locker room and is very important. 

"I'm very proud and happy. Barcelona fans have to enjoy it because lately we haven't had much joy, especially in the Clasicos. Playing like this we can compete with anyone.

"I'm very happy for the players, they've shown they're great footballers and it means a lot. I'm a rookie as a coach and winning 4-0 here strengthens me a lot. Barca has to compete playing this way."

 

Despite the result, third-placed Barca are still 12 points adrift of leaders Madrid, although they do have a game in hand. 

Xavi stopped short of claiming Barca are back in the title race, but he did say there is still plenty left for his side to achieve this season.  

"There is work to do," he added. "We won three points, it's not a title. Let's keep working, there's a lot left. The objectives have not been covered, not even for this season.

"I've already said it, as well as being a coach, I feel for this club. I think it's the best club in the world. We're going to celebrate now and enjoy it."

Barca are next in action on April 3 when they host second-placed Sevilla. 

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