Barcelona coach Xavi pleased with display in epic Clasico with Real Madrid despite extra-time defeat

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said his team were now a match for anyone after taking Real Madrid to extra-time in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final.

Real won the match in the extra period thanks to a goal from substitute Federico Valverde but the coach could take solace from a spirited Barcelona performance, with Ansu Fati equalising in the 85th minute after Karim Benzema had given Real the lead.

It was the second time Barca had hauled themselves back into contention, with Luuk de Jong, who scored for the third game in a row, netting a scrappy goal after Vinicius had opened the scoring. 

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Barcelona coach Xavi said his team could compete with anyone after the defeat to Real Madrid

Real’s Federico Valverde won the match in extra-time for Barca gave a spirited display

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Xavi said: ‘I’m sad and upset because the game was there for the taking. We had a bit of a complex at the start but once we got over that I think we were better than Madrid.

‘We took a lot of risks but that is the right path for us to become competitive. We can be proud. We are on the right path. But I’m sad because we wanted to be in the final. I’m not upset about the performance though.

‘It was our errors that let us down. We have to be more responsible with the ball and we did not deal with the counter attacks. But we will grow from this. We can compete with anyone.’

Xavi switched to a back three to get his team back into the game and they were over-run at the back when Madrid scored the winner but he said: ‘They scored and they dominated but we changed the system to have another player in midfield but we are Barça we have to do that.’

Luuk de Jong scored the first equaliser with fortune after a poor clearance from Eder Militao

Ansu Fati headed home with five minutes to go in normal time to force the extra period

The Barcelona coach also welcomed back Ferran Torres, Pedri and Ansu Fati who have all been out since last year. 

‘Ferran and Pedri are going to be very important but obviously they need to play minutes,’ he said. ‘Ansu is in the same position. The youngsters were very good. It was a very closely fought game.’

Gerard Pique added: ‘I think we competed very well. It’s not the result we were hoping for, it always hurts to lose against Real Madrid, but we are close to winning. We just need to take that final step to win [this type of game].

‘We played well. We took risks. We went after the game. They hit us on the break with lots of players to get the winner but if we keep playing this way we are going to start winning. The squad was a bit threadbare coming into the game but those coming back into the side played at a very high level.’

Gerard Pique (R), here fighting Eder Militao for the ball, was proud of Barca’s performance

Xavi was taking charge of his first match against Barcelona’s arch rivals Real Madrid as coach

Barcelona’s director of football Mateu Alemany was asked after the game if the club would add more players in the January transfer window. 

The club need Ousmane Dembele to sign a new contract with a considerable pay cut to be able to bring in another striker.

‘It depends on [La Liga’s] financial fair play,’ he said. ‘Nothing has changed. There is a deal on the table. We hope he stays. The situation will be resolved soon.’

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