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.
A first league title since 2018-19 is within Barcelona’s grasp now, with a dozen matchdays remaining and no end in sight to their dominance.
A 22nd win from 26 games in this season’s championship was hard-earned at Camp Nou, where a freak own goal from Ronald Araujo gave Madrid a ninth-minute lead.
Barcelona’s equaliser could hardly have been better timed, coming just before half-time from Sergi Roberto, who was given the nod to start in midfield ahead of Franck Kessie.
That gave Barcelona a huge lift to take into the interval and they struck at the death in the second half too, with substitute Kessie the man to send the home support wild in stoppage time.
Xavi celebrated on the touchline, all too aware of that goal’s significance. Barring a staggering implosion over 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 generated more chances,” Xavi said. “I am leaving satisfied. The team emptied itself and worked in defence and attack. It is a very important victory for us. I think we have been good.”
He was right about the chances, with Barcelona leading that count 17-11 over the course of the game, and the expected goals final reckoning, measuring the quality of chances and likelihood of scoring, was also firmly in their favour by a margin of 1.64 to 0.58.
Robert Lewandowski missed what was determined to be the best chance of the game, with his volley in the 67th minute flying over Thibaut Courtois’ goal. That was given an xG rating of 0.377.
Madrid also had a goal chalked off after Marco Asensio beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 81st minute but was ruled offside after a VAR check.
“I think we had more control,” Xavi said. “I think we have been superior in general.”
His team had 54 per cent of possession, having had just 35.2 per cent in their 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey at the start of March.
Sergi Roberto was named man of the match, and the goal justified his selection, with the experienced one-club man trusted for the big occasion. He featured at right-back last week, but with Araujo returning from suspension was handed a role further upfield, with Barcelona packing their midfield.
Former Milan star Kessie proved he can thrive in such a big occasion, too, with his intervention off the bench, and Xavi could hardly have been more delighted.
“I had doubts until the last moment between Sergi and Franck. In the end it turned out very well because they both scored,” Xavi said.
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