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Xavi calls Real Madrid favourites five times ahead of Clasico – mind games or underconfidence?



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The mind games leading upto the upcoming El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona are well and truly underway and despite leading the table with a comfortable margin of seven points, Barcelona manager Xavi has pressed that Carlo Ancelotti’s men are favourites to win the tie.

Barcelona travel to Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday, March 2 to play the first leg of Copa del Rey. Interestingly enough, Xavi pressed on the fact that Real Madrid are the favourites to win Copa del Rey this year not once but five times.

“Real Madrid are still the favourites to win the Copa del Rey. Despite the departures, they are reigning Champions League and La Liga champions. The Spanish Super Cup has nothing to do with it,” said Xavi

“A big win tomorrow would be great for us, as we did in the Spanish Super Cup. But we have a very difficult opponent in front of us… I insist, they are favourites.”

Recently, the Barça manager, who has already won once at the Bernabeu in his managerial career, decided to bring out the infamous 2-6 defeat when asked about his most memorable Clasico.

“Most are unforgettable; the 2-6. There have also been situations in which we have come back. But it was another time, it is clear. I have good memories, but now it’s another story, ” he was quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo.

“That’s why I give Madrid the role of favourite,” he added.

In the same conversation, the Barcelona manager was quick to mention that the current set of players should not consider the Clasicos of 2011 when Jose Mourinho was in charge of Madrid. 

“This period has nothing to do with that of the five Clasicos. Unnecessary tension was generated. Now there is rivalry and respect. We cannot give a bad example of that stage,” said Xavi.

On Thursday, both teams will be reeling from a host of injury issues. For Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy and David Alaba are certain to miss the encounter. As far as Barcelona are concerned, the absence of Robert Lewandowski is the latest blow apart from Ousmane Dembele and Pedri.

The good news for Real Madrid remains the fact that Aurelien Tchouameni will be available for selection and could line up alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

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Real Madrid News

Key Real Madrid star will be fit for Valladolid clash despite national team withdrawal



Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images

Real Madrid have been greeted with some positive news on the injury front as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to be fit and ready for the upcoming La Liga clash against Real Valladolid.

The 30-year-old custodian had flown away for national team duty with Belgium and played the full game against Sweden last week. However, the Real Madrid ace was sent back to the club over the weekend due to a minor adductor strain.

This raised concerns over the former Chelsea star’s condition, especially with a busy period lying ahead for the Merengues.

However, Mario Cortegana of The Athletic has eased any nerves surrounding his situation, reporting that Courtois was subjected to tests upon returning to Spain and there is no reason for worry.

The report states that Real Madrid expect their No. 1 to be fit and available for their next game which will be against Real Valladolid in La Liga on April 2, Sunday.

It is further stated that the knock Courtois sustained was not a new one and that the 30-year-old had felt discomfort in the same area during Los Blancos’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second-leg tie against Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this month.

Courtois has featured 32 times across all competitions this term, having missed a few matches due to fitness issues. He has managed just ten clean sheets and will be hoping to add to that against Valladolid, now that is reportedly fit to feature at the weekend.

In another boost, reports earlier today indicated that Toni Kroos does not have any injury after concerns were raised due to the midfielder doing individual training sessions over the past week.

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