While Real Madrid turn their attentions to El Clasico on Sunday today, Barcelona have been preparing all week for their crucial La Liga tie. With a nine-point lead for the Blaugrana, some are calling it Real Madrid’s last chance to save their title challenge.
Barcelona have limped through their last three ties with 1-0 victories over Real Madrid, Valencia and Athletic Club. While the results and the attitude have been good, the performances have been somewhat lacking from Xavi’s men.
Ahead of El Clasico, Relevo say that Xavi is communicating one key message to his players – they must hold onto the ball. Feeling that Athletic and Valencia were able to apply pressure in the latter stages of the match due to their poor use of the ball, he will instruct his players to hold onto the ball no matter the pressure they come under.
In particular his focus will be on the midfielders and forwards, who he wants to offer for the ball throughout the game, especially when the going gets tough.
The return of Pedri should aid those attempts. Part of the problem is that Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong are more comfortable with the game in front of them. For all their benefits, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha are direct and more prone to losing the ball than holding onto it at the moment.
Image via Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images