Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has scotched suggestions from Madrid that the club’s trophy-laden era has come to an end.
In an exclusive interview with Sport, the Spanish international also spoke of the new Neymar-Lionel Messi link-up at the Camp Nou and discussed the battle for supremacy among Europe’s top clubs.
“I laugh every time I hear that it is the end of an era. They said it years ago and unfortunately for some it never happens. It will still take a lot,” insisted Xavi.
“It’s like if I tell you year after year that you are going to die and in the end, when God takes you, I can take heart telling you I was right.
“What’s clear is that people who say it is the end of an era are the ones that don’t like Barcelona. Therefore, we don’t pay attention to them and just carry on the way we do, enjoying it.”
The 33-year-old was asked his opinion on Johan Cruyff’s comments that there could be a possible clash of egos at Barca between Neymar and Messi following the Brazilian’s arrival.
“I can understand what Johan is saying but I’m quite relaxed it is not going to happen here. The subject of egos clashing in this dressing room is controlled.”
Xavi was also questioned on whether he thinks the balance of power in European football has shifted to Germany, in particular to Bayern Munich.
“I don’t agree. We are only talking about a year. Were Chelsea the best team two years ago when they beat Bayern?” he asked.
“If we look at Bayern’s [7-0 on aggregate] result against us it was superficial. You need to watch the games again, which I have done.
“Bayern changed against us and did not play as they usually do. They took advantage of their speed down the wings, knew how to pressurise us very well, and defended tight.
“They came into the games with better rhythm and strength but the ball was ours, although we couldn’t dominate them. They clearly improved but there are several reasons why neither ourselves nor Madrid got to the final.
“The Barca-Madrid war during the season takes a lot out of both of us. In Germany it’s not the same. They don’t have this intensity, this historic rivalry.
“We’ve been knocked out of the Champions League in two successive seasons and that isn’t normal. This year two Copa del Rey semi-finals also wore us out so it’s not surprising we came into April and May worse than them.”
Xavi feels the answer is to make all Copa del Rey ties one single game rather than the current two-legged format.
“There should be one game. If the Spanish Football Federation wants to see Spanish teams in the Champions League final more often it has to play its part.
“Players would not be as tired because we’d save four or five games and it would be more beneficial as the big teams have to play away from home,” he concluded.