After two defeats in a row, Barcelona returned to winning ways as they secured a narrow but crucial 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A first-half own goal from Eder Militao proved to be the difference on the night as Barça defended solidly to hold on to their slender lead and return home with an advantage ahead of the second leg of the semi-final, which will be played at Spotify Camp Nou next month.
It was an important win for the Blaugrana considering that they had looked quite dull in the last game against Almeria and another defeat here could have had a demoralising effect on the players.
But the win, even if it is by a narrow margin, will serve as a major confidence booster for Xavi Hernandez and his men. The manager spoke to the media after his team’s solid win against Los Blancos at the Bernabeu and here’s what he had to say about the match.
On the performance: “We were not able to keep the ball. It was difficult for us to win duels in possession, but we defended very well.”
On the team’s attitude: “The attitude was great and we fought until the very end, which is positive. Madrid did not create a single clear chance.”
On if he is happy with the win: “I’m satisfied with the result, but not with our match. We can’t let our rival take the ball away from us.”
On the second leg: “We have an advantage for the second leg, but we still have to compete very well. I think Real Madrid are very strong, and I still see them as the favorites.”
On how the team fared: “We played well without the ball, but not with the ball. We didn’t know what to do with the ball. We were extraordinary at the back though, and that should be valued. It’s part of the game. I think today we were exceptional and we have to evaluate that positively.”
On the gameplan: “The plan was not to defend. The plan was to have long possessions and win duels, but we did not execute it properly. We can’t boast about how we won today.”
“I insist that Madrid are very strong. You can’t always dominate big teams. They made us play this way, it was not our plan.”
On Ronald Araujo: “Araujo was spectacular, but all of our defenders were really good. He is one of the best defenders in the world.”
On Real Madrid having greater possession: “We did not betray our style. The rival forced us to play this way. You try to take the ball away from Modric and Kroos… Sometimes you have to defend.”
On his defenders: “Marcos and Jules were spectacular.”
On Real Madrid’s chances: “Real Madrid are still favorites. They are very strong physically and they have a great team. They are the holders of the Champions League.”
On stopping Vinicius Jr: “We can’t underestimate our work to stop Vinicius today. He usually creates 6 or 7 chances by himself, but nothing today.”