Xavi salutes ‘superior’ Barcelona as Clasico win brings LaLiga Tittle ever closer


Barcelona survived a scare before stunning Real Madrid with a stoppage-time Franck Kessie winner, bringing LaLiga title glory ever closer.

Xavi described Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Clasico rivals Real Madrid as “a very important victory for us” as his team roared 12 points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Barcelona’s first league title since 2018-19 is now within reach, with a dozen matchdays remaining and their dominance in sight.

A 22nd win from 26 games in this season’s Championship was hard-fought at the Camp Nou, where a freak own goal from Ronald Araujo gave Madrid the lead in the ninth minute.

Barcelona’s equalizer could hardly have been better timed, coming just before half-time from Sergi Roberto, who was instructed to start in midfield ahead of Franck Kessie.

That gave Barcelona a huge lead at the break and they also struck at the death in the second half, with substitute Kessie the man to send the home support wild at the break.

Xavi celebrated on the touchline, all too aware of the significance of this goal. Barring a stunning implosion in the remaining weeks of the season, Xavi’s Barcelona will be champions in his first full season at the helm, dethroning their great rivals from Madrid.

“We dominated, we created more chances,” said Xavi. “I’m leaving satisfied. The team emptied itself and worked in defense and attack. It’s a very important victory for us. I think we were good.”

He was right about the chances, with Barcelona leading 17-11 going into the game, and the expected final goal tally, a measure of the quality of chances and probability of scoring, was also firmly in their favor at a margin of 1.64. to 0.58.

Robert Lewandowski missed the best chance of the game when his volley flew over Thibaut Courtois’ goal in the 67th minute. This was given an xG rating of 0.377.

Madrid also had a goal after Marco Asensio beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 81st minute, but it was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.

“I think we had more control,” Xavi said. “I think we were better overall.

His team had 54 per cent of possession in their 1-0 Copa del Rey win at the Santiago Bernabeu in early March, just 35.2 per cent.

Sergi Roberto was named man of the match and the goal justified his selection as the experienced one-club man was trusted for the big occasion. He featured at right-back last week, but Araujo, who returned from suspension, was given a role further up the field, with Barcelona filling their midfield.

Former Milan star Kessie proved he can thrive on such a big occasion with his save from the bench, and Xavi could hardly have been pleased.

“I was in doubt between Sergi and Franck until the last moment. In the end it turned out very well because they both scored,” said Xavi.