If Barcelona wanted to prove that their Xavi-led resurgence was to be taken seriously, then silencing the Bernabéu and simultaneously resurrecting El Clasico magic after a period of Real Madrid dominance would be some statement.
The Catalan giants have been resurrected under the guidance of their legendary former midfielder, and after Sunday’s historic and convincing victory against the fugitive La Liga leaders, it looks like Xavi will only cement that legacy from the dugout.
“We’re back,” veteran defender Gerard Piqué tweeted, minutes after the visitors delivered a dominant 4-0 win over their oldest and fiercest rivals to end a five-game losing streak.
It was touching from a man who has lived through more El Clasico than most in the busy era of Cristiano Ronaldo against Lionel Messi, under the highs of Pep Guardiola’s mesmerizing team and most recently during the turmoil caused by Barca’s financial difficulties.
Real Madrid will still have to take a big hit if they don’t celebrate their 35th title with their fans at the Cibeles Fountain in the heart of the Spanish capital at the end of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are nine points ahead of Sevilla and 12 points ahead of La Liga third-placed Barcelona, but now Barcelona have set the tone for the future of this iconic encounter.
“We reversed our negative losing momentum in the last few Clasicos,” Xavi said. “We have proven that we can compete and play against the best teams in the world.
“I don’t know if we can win the title. We cannot exclude anything. Maybe we are a little late, but this is a very big victory for us.”
“I am very proud of my team. This is El Clasico, and it can only help us move forward. We still have a lot to do.”
Having lost his way under Ronald Koeman, Xavi has been able to quickly implement his desired style at Barcelona since arriving in November and has been spurred on by January signings that now look very insightful.
“Xavi doesn’t surprise me,” says former Real Madrid and Barcelona striker Javier Saviola, who spotted the midfielder’s potential as a manager when they played together at Barcelona.
“You could already see that he had the ability to master this facet of coaching, which is so difficult for everyone. He had these tactical coaching habits, he always put the players in front of him the way he saw them, which we don’t understand. So you could already see things.
“He gave Barça a different face. The signings were important. The signings that have taken place this season have benefited Barça and they are playing at a high level.
“We have to be patient with him, but I think he is the right coach because he was born at the club, he has the Barça philosophy and he certainly has everything to succeed at Barcelona.
These new signings include Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who stunned and silenced home supporters at the Bernabéu as he led Barcelona first, then sent several goals out when he grabbed his team’s fourth ball just 51 minutes later.
Real Madrid fans then had to suffer the shame of listening to a small group of traveling Barcelona fans “get old” every time, with teenage midfielders Pedri and Gavi suggesting they could be key components of many future El Clasicos.
“When Messi and Cristiano left, people said the Clasico would never be the same,” said former Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta, who was in Madrid to work on ESPN’s US coverage. “But Spanish clubs are really good at turning out young players.”
La Liga is aware of El Clasico’s huge global attraction and is trying to spruce up its marquee with Super Bowl status, hosting pre-match parties featuring former players, celebrities and influencers, and hosting fan events across the city.
But after not beating Real Madrid in La Liga for three years, Barcelona’s dominant victory has now made a marketing move for them.
In the days leading up to El Clasico, cranes and construction vehicles continued to work inside and outside the Bernabéu as part of a futuristic renovation at Real Madrid’s famous old stadium.
As Ancelotti watched on late on a chilly Sunday night, it looked like his team’s confidence, which was lacking in high-scoring striker Karim Benzema, also needed a little boost.
Ever since Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018, the club have been looking for someone who could achieve the same superstar status and former Real Madrid striker Hugo Sanchez is hopeful this can be resolved with the signing of French striker Kylian in the summer. Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. .
“Given the talks, the Madrid fans expect him to sign,” says Sanchez. “He is the most attractive player in the world, Real Madrid have waited patiently for one, two, three seasons and he will make La Liga much more attractive for us.”
Ronaldo’s presence is still felt in the city today, thanks to his Ballon d’Or and individual awards displayed in the Real Madrid trophy room, his signature gyms dotted around Madrid, and his own Pestana CR7 hotel on Gran Vía.
However, across the street at the club shop, Vinicius Junior is the current poster boy and proved Real Madrid’s only attacking threat on Sunday, and former Real Madrid winger Savio is confident that his Brazilian compatriot will also be a Los Blancos star.
“He has a lot of potential, a lot of individual qualities, a lot of technical qualities, and this season he is learning more and more about Spanish and European football, about tactics,” says Savio.
“At the same time, he is a player that I really like because he has a lot of personality, he goes one on one – he never stopped being the Vinicius that I saw at Flamengo, one on one, individual qualities. and this year he is showing more and more of his potential and talent.”
Having lost control of El Clasico, Real Madrid will need Vinicius and any new stars this summer to help them compete with what is certain to be a Barcelona team that will compete for the title stronger.
“I’m sure Xavi’s plan will guarantee them every league match, including the Clasico,” says Domagoj Kostańsak, a sports journalist and football analyst covering Barcelona.
“Once they improve certain positions, they will be back on top again – I consider them serious contenders for silver as early as next season.”