For Xavi and Barcelona, this weekend serves as validation and confirmation of all the things that you think you’ve been doing. This puts you at a different level in terms of achievement because of what it means on the field but because of what it means for the growth of your team.
The Spanish Super Cup semi-final was a moral victory, now to go into the Bernabeu and win is an actual victory it’s no longer the “we’re OK with playing well” no, now the philosophy is we’re playing well and we’re winning. Barcelona played against Osasuna knowing full well that you had to go to Galatasaray and advance in the Europa League and knowing full well that you had a Clasico at the end of the week, Barcelona was able to go through those three games having won all three, I think it proves a lot to Xavi and the group of players more importantly to those group of players inside that locker room, that this team is different now.
The league title is not really on the line, Madrid has a 10-point lead at the top of the table it’s 15 points over Barcelona and Xavi Hernandez said last week that it would be difficult, almost impossible now. Even if Barcelona were to win the Clasico you’d need Real Madrid to drop points three or four times that just hasn’t happened all season so it’s not about to happen now. So, League wises it isn’t big, but this is about validation, validation for Barcelona. After the Super Cup, Pique said “we lost but we’re getting closer to winning now” it was really interesting to see the fallout to that game because after that game you had this idea that Barcelona felt like we were getting there and one of the first lines in one of the Catalan newspapers was “Barcelona are not back yet but nearly they’re getting there.”
I think it did set up if you like the beginning of this process where it felt like Barcelona is starting to get things right now. In the very next game, Barcelona lost three to athletic 3-2 to Athletic Club and got knocked out of the Copa del Rey, but since then it’s twelve matches and no defeats. There’s a very clear sense of this team developing finding its feet finding an identity being the kind of team that Xavi wanted to be. In the last 10 games, they’ve scored four goals five times. So, I think all this run is fine, but it’s the Clasico the culmination and proof that says this team is for real?
If they were to win, it makes very little difference in terms of winning the league because they know they’re not going to, but it’s quite significant in terms of them being in a Champions League place at the end of the season, I think Xavi is thinking about the validation of what it is they’re trying to do, rather than the game itself.