‘Madrid Doesn’t Want To Play Football’

Xavi Hernandez

Former Barcelona playmaker, Xavi Hernandez has said Real Madrid lack the culture of beautiful football that exists at the Camp Nou and that it is “embarrassing” to suggest any player can compare with Lionel Messi.

Xavi, educated at Barca’s La Masia academy, won 24 trophies including eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with the Catalan club between 1998 and 2015, and was often viewed as the player who best epitomised the club’s possession-based style of football.

Speaking from Qatar where he currently combines playing duties at Al Sadd with coaching underage players and advising the World Cup 2022 organisers, the Catalan told El Pais: “Barcelona is the final exam for a player.

“It is the most difficult club and the most demanding in the world. Madrid do not play so beautifully. At the Bernabeu, if a defender hoofs the ball into the stand it is fine. That is the culture. The fans applaud.

“At the Camp Nou you knock the ball into the stand and the grumbles are so loud it is negative. Since [Johan] Cruyff’s time.”

He said even the appointment of former France star Zinedine Zidane, who regularly talks about playing “good football,” had done little to change matters.

“[Jose] Mourinho’s Madrid hit the ball direct over the top,” he said. “Mourinho told his players never to stop the ball, to play quickly and then [Angel] Di Maria, Cristiano [Ronaldo] or [Karim] Benzema would break. Now they do it with [Gareth] Bale. They don’t want to play football.”


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