Xavi: Real Madrid “don’t want to play football”

Xavi: Real Madrid “don’t want to play football”


Barcelona legend Xavi has accused Real Madrid of not wanting to play beautiful football like his former club.

After a stunning 2016-17 campaign in which they claimed La Liga and the Champions League, Real have struggled this season as they sit 16 points behind Barcelona in the race for the La Liga crown.

And Xavi says the Santiago Bernabeu’s lack of football culture is to blame for the tactics, pointing to Jose Mourinho’s time in charge as an example.

“Barcelona is the final exam for a player,” Xavi told El Pais.

“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 added: “Mourinho’s Madrid hit the ball direct over the top. 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.”

“Madrid break apart, seven players attack and Casemiro stays back on his own to cover the centre,” the 37-year-old continued. “[Barca midfielder Sergio] Busquets cannot do that as even I am faster than he is. Casemiro is super fast, but he has trouble with everything else as he has not worked on it.

“He has other characteristics, is more defensive, makes more tackles, covers more ground, but he does not dominate space-time. If you had started with Casemiro aged 12, 13, 15, then he would have that.”