Barcelona criticized themselves after losing to Real Madrid in the Super Cup

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez knew exactly what awaited him after another heavy defeat to Real Madrid.

The criticism quickly subsided after a demoralizing 4-1 defeat in the Spanish Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

“Humiliated,” the Catalan sports newspaper Sport wrote on its cover. “A defeat that requires decisions.”

It was a huge blow for Barca and Xavi took responsibility without hesitation.

“It’s time to apologize to the fans, I’m the most responsible person,” he said. “It’s a tough loss, but we’ve bounced back from tough losses many times.”

“You have to be very self-critical. There was hope and hope, but it is a disappointment, this is not the image that Barça can offer, especially in the final,” he added. “I experienced very difficult defeats. There are arguments, we demonstrated this last season. We need to reload and take advantage of the three remaining titles. We will be back, we will be back, I am convinced.”

Barça’s next match will take place on Thursday in the 1/8 finals of the Copa del Rey, where they will meet Unionists from the third division. In the league, the Catalan side are seven points behind Madrid in second place in the standings, with Girona at the top and a match to spare. The Blaugranas also reached the last 16 of the Champions League, something they have failed to achieve in two consecutive campaigns since the traumatic departure of Lionel Messi.

Xavi faced criticism for the Super Cup after a shaky finish in 2023. His side have suffered too much to beat the likes of bottom-place Almeria in the league and Barbastro in the Copa del Rey’s fourth division.

Despite the defeat to Madrid, his second in a row against their arch-rivals after a 2-1 home defeat in the league last October, Xavi made it clear that he felt supported by the club. He said he continued to believe in the project and insisted the club had recovered from similarly difficult situations in the past.

“I think we can turn the situation around,” Xavi said. “Today is a step back, but it continues… there is no choice but to tolerate criticism.”

Sporting director Deco, a former teammate of Xavi, noted that the coach continues to receive the support of the club’s senior management.

“He has the confidence of the president (Joan Laporta), the sports leadership… This is a difficult defeat that needs to be discussed, but it does not change anything.”

After facing the Unionists in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona will face Real Betis in the league on Sunday.

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