There’s plenty of excitement surrounding the mini classico this Sunday (17.00) between the reserve teams of Barça and Real Madrid at the Mini Estadi.
It’s been nearly 15 years since Real Madrid Castilla came to Barcelona – the last time was in 1998 when they lost 5-0.
With the first teams due to meet on the Spanish Cup next Wednesday, Barça and Real Madrid’s B teams will give the fans an early taste of El Classico on Sunday when they meet at the Mini Estadi(17.00) in week 23 of the Second Division campaign. They may not be the first team, but there is sure to be plenty of quality on display with the two projects of La Masia and La Fabrica facing each other with a lot of pride and bragging rights at stake in a big match atmosphere.
Barça B and Real Madrid Castilla have faced each other 16 times, with Barça winning seven of them and four ending in draws. The last time that they met in Barcelona was 15 years ago, on June 20th 1998 in the fifth game of the promotion play offs. Barça, who were coached by the legendary Josep Maria Gonzalvo –who has given his name to the ground of CE Mollet- featured then promising youngsters Xavi Hernandez and Carlos Puyol. The first game between the two in Barcelona was played at the Fabra i Coats ground in the Cup, when Barça B won 2-0 with goals from ‘Tente’ Sánchez and Durán, which despite losing the return game 3-2, was enough to get them through to the next round.
Contrasting seasons so far
Eusebio Sacristán’s team are currently sitting in fifth spot in the league, two points off the promotion places (though they cannot of course be promoted), whilst the Madrid reserve team are in seventeenth, just four points off the drop zone. Barça B have had a good season so far with wins against ex-top flight teams Hèrcules, Sporting Gijón and Vilarreal and a draw against Almeria, as well as being the league’s top scorers – thanks in large part to the contribution of Deulofeu who leads the league scorers alongside Riera and Jesé with 12. The second highest scorers are Real Madrid Castilla.
Barça’s Catalan midfielder is well aware of the threat from Real Madrid ahead of next week’s Cup semi-final, but is optimistic about the team’s form: “we just need to be a little bit more effective in front of goal”
Respect for Valdés
Xavi responded to questions about Victor Valdes with a firm reply: “you have to respect his decision. He’s an extraordinary bloke who always faces things head on. He’s an example for us, both on and off the pitch. He thought the decision through and reached an agreement. The fans will be on his side. He is the best keeper in the Club’s history”.
Xavi Hernández spoke to the media after training this Friday and there were plenty of questions about next week’s big game against Real Madrid. For Xavi: “these games are always unpredictable. We are really in good shape to compete right now, but anything can happen in football and particularly against Real Madrid. They will be missing a few important players, but they are Real Madrid after all and they will compete well, I’m sure. Despite their current situation, they are a dangerous opponent”.
The Barça number 6 insisted though that it’s just a game of football – a game he expects to “see us getting lots of possession, but we have to be careful about mistakes because Real Madrid know how to take advantage of them. The key will be to score as many goals as possible at the Bernabeu and finish the job off at home”. Xavi is close to Iker Casillas, who broke a bone in his hand in the Cup semi-final on Wednesday and will miss both of the Cup semi-final game and he explained: “I’m very sorry for him. He’s the heart of his team and it’s a serious loss for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team”.
Osasuna up front
Although El Clásico was at the forefront of media attention, Xavi made it clear that the team are focussed first up on Sunday’s game against Osasuna: “We want to get back to winning in the league after losing at Anoeta and this Sunday will give us the chance. Mendilíbar’s Osasuna will always make things difficult though”.
Barça will be going into the game enjoying some good form too following Thursday’s win in Malaga: “we came through what was a must win game at La Rosaleda. We just need to be a little bit more effective in front of goal to finish games off. I think we are at a good level and we are enjoying ourselves right now- I always feel good when I’ve got players in front of the ball”.
“We’re in good form and we have a good relationship in the dressing room and you can see that reflected on the pitch. You get used to winning and then it hurts when you lose”. As to his own future, Xavi explained: “I’d love to stay here for many more years. It’s down to the coaches. Puyol is very optimistic. I’ll be signing a new three year deal with the Club on Monday and I am very happy about that. We’ll see how long my body sticks it out, but right now with the style of play we have that really helps me”.
Review the midfield player career that turns 33 today
Xavi Hernández turns 33 today, a day after the victory of the first team in the Spanish Cup against Málaga. Review the contents of Xavi, who will renew his contract on Monday.
[+] Xavi’s profile
[+] The news of Xavier Hernandez Creus
[+] Photos career