MADRID - Barcelona playmaker Xavi has
dismissed the idea that Real Madrid's battling performance with
10 men in La Liga on Saturday would give them a confidence boost
for Wednesday's King's Cup final.
Despite having central defender Raul Albiol dismissed just
after half-time, Real fought back from a goal down to snatch a
1-1 draw in a tense encounter at a packed Bernabeu, the first of
four "Clasicos" between the arch rivals in three competitions in
However, the result preserved Barca's eight-point lead over
second-placed Real at the top of the standings with six games
left and put them within touching distance of a third straight
league under coach Pep Guardiola.
"Madrid will in no way emerge stronger," Spain international
Xavi told reporters.
"We were superior, faithful to ourselves and we come away
with positive feelings despite not getting the three points," he
added. "We had control, with patience, we defended well and the
game just got away from us at the end."
Barca, who host struggling Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday, are on 85 points from 32 matches, with Real on 77
ahead of their match at third-placed Valencia, in Saturday's
Barca also have a superior head-to-head record thanks to
their 5-0 demolition of Real at the Nou Camp in November that
would clinch the title if the pair finished level on points.
Real are bidding for a first trophy in three seasons when
the Spanish giants clash in the Cup final in Valencia. They also
meet in the two-legged European Champions League semi-final at
the Bernabeu on April 27 and at the Nou Camp on May 3.
Barca dominated possession for long periods on Saturday and
Guardiola admitted they perhaps should have gone for the jugular
after Lionel Messi put them ahead from the spot in the 53rd
minute following Albiol's dismissal.
Real's players, for their part, drew some comfort from the
fact they managed to come from behind to snatch a point despite
a numerical disadvantage thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty
with around 10 minutes remaining.
"The most important thing is that when we were losing and
down to 10 men we showed the character to go on the counter-attack and score a goal," Real's Spain defender Alvaro Arbeloa
"If we continue to show such character we have a chance to
win the upcoming games," centre back Ricardo Carvalho added.
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