Xavi Hernandez has reflected on Barcelona’s rivalry with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. ‘He wanted war, we wanted football.’
Mourinho’s time at Santiago Bernabeu led to some of the most fractious Clasico meetings of recent memory and induced a feud between Spain teammates Xavi and Iker Casillas, which was settled in an effort to avoid hurting the national team and, Xavi says, cost Casillas the favour of the Madrid fans.
“Mourinho seemed annoyed by the search for peace. He wanted war and we wanted football. Iker’s attempt to stop this war cost him dearly with a sector of Madrid. Some people haven’t forgiven us. Iker called me to tell me everything, apologising for 200 things. I apologised for the other 200 and, finally, we reached an agreement,” Xavi told AS.
“War wounds? A few, but I played fast, one touch or two. And if not, I turned. I wasn’t quick, skilful or strong. I was always looking for space, survival. If I had been like Paul Pogba it would be different.”
Xavi recalled a few of his meetings with Madrid during his long Barca career, both the good and bad memories, as well as final wins and losses.
“The Copa del Rey Finals we played against Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Yes, they hurt. But we won other important ones, such as against Athletic Bilbao, for example. But of course, we left the way clear for important trophies such as the Club World Cup or Spanish Supercups or European, but in the world we won so much,” he continued.
“Wembley 2011 was the most enjoyable, yes. And Rome in 2009, too, although I don’t forget the Euro 2012 Final against Italy. That was arguably the best of the Vicente del Bosque era.
“We didn’t take our foot off the pedal in the 5-0 against Madrid. That would be disrespectful. It should never be done. They slowed down a little in the 4-1 at Santiago Bernabeu, the famous day of the pasiello [guard of honour]. They could have had seven that day.”