Carlo Ancelotti’s team will make it to the final and celebrate the title after the final. Such is one of the most familiar scenes in football. The Italian coach’s team has lost only one final in the last era. That memory of pain, however, has started to fade. The last time Ancelotti’s side failed to win a final was in 2014.
Ancelotti’s Real Madrid will play another final on Sunday. The team’s opponent in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia is arch-rival Barcelona. Is it still going to win El Clasico and become the champion?
At the pre-final press conference on Saturday, one reminded Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez of Ancelotti’s incredible record in the final. After hearing that record, the Barca coach joked, ‘You don’t see any hope for me, do you? Records are meant to be broken, and you should remember that my finals are very good too.’
Xavi reminded that his former team Al Sadd won five times in the final in Qatar.
I still see Real as I have always seen it – a strong team in all departments. They are domestic and European champions. Real Madrid is Real Madrid. In the final they became a team of another dimension.
Real beat Barca 3-1 at home in the last El Clasico in La Liga last October. But after that, Barca has turned around in the league. Xavi’s team is at the top by 3 points ahead of Real with 41 points in 16 matches. Xavi wants his team to bring their league form into the cup today, ‘We have to remember where we are as a team. And the fact that you reminded me that Ancelotti has lost only one final since 2010 will only fuel me more.’
However, Xavi, who has played professional football for Barca for 17 years, likes the opponent Real, ‘I still see Real the way I have always seen it – a strong team in all departments. Tactically they are very organized and strong. They have players who can make the difference. They are really strong opponents. They are domestic and European champions. Real Madrid is Real Madrid. In the final, they become a team of another dimension.
Xavi did not stop praising Real here, ‘Since Real Madrid is in front, we are a little more excited. Adding a trophy to the cabinet can change everything. But you have to remember that Real are terrible, even if they don’t play well.
The final is an opportunity for his young team to prove themselves, said Xavi, ‘You play football to play the final against Real Madrid. It is a very big occasion to win the trophy. There is no compromise on winning in Barcelona. This is what we play for. Our aim is to win trophies. We are very close to winning another trophy, and we will jump to get it. We want to win the trophy for ourselves, not because of who our opponents are.’