It is worth remembering that the last manager Barcelona won the title with was sacked for the lack of style of his teams played with. While the circumstances with which Xavi Hernandez is working are vastly different, he himself was critical of Barcelona’s lack of style during their El Clasico victory over Real Madrid.
Barcelona managed just 35% possession, which is their lowest figure in 15 years. They managed just two shots on goal, although their defensive effort meant that was still a statistic they outstripped Real Madrid in.
Speaking after the match to Marca, Xavi was clear that while he was happy with the result, the way it was secured was less optimal.
“The result is very positive. I am happy with the work, solidity in defense, minimizing Real Madrid in their field. The game has been difficult. Victory is tremendous. We have not known how to retain the ball, it has been difficult for us to win duels in the Madrid field. We have defended well without the ball. We have fought well without the ball. People are supportive.”
“I’m satisfied, but we have to improve on the ball: we can’t give the opponent dominance. I’m satisfied with the result and not so much for the match.”
Although reports emerged before the match that Barcelona were aware they would have to do a lot of defending, Xavi claimed that it was not their intention to play like that.
“The plan was different. Dominate in their half. Defend with the ball, but today we couldn’t. We weren’t clean with the ball. Madrid didn’t have clear chances. It’s a very important victory for us”.
“Today we cannot boast of ‘how’. This is not the game we want. We want to generate more scoring chances. It is not the game we want. There are moments in which the rival can dominate you. How do you take the ball off Kroos and Modric? It has to be valued and it’s extraordinary.”
Xavi has received criticism in the past for claiming that Barcelona cannot play like other sides, and that the fans demand something more from their teams. However the Barcelona coach was of the opinion that they were simply outplayed by their opponents.
“We haven’t played like that, but the opponent has led us to play like that. We haven’t been good with the ball. Normally we’re less turgid. We haven’t betrayed any model. We also have to defend. It’s part of the game.”