Barcelona head coach Xavi and captain Sergio Busquets have both not ruled out a remarkable late title push after their stunning 4-0 Clasico victory.

The Blaugrana overwhelmed league-leading Real Madrid with a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with strikes from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The victory means third-placed Barcelona have 54 points from 28 games, but still trail Madrid by 12 points although the Catalans do have a game in hand.

But Barcelona have been buoyed by an exceptional turnaround in form since Xavi's arrival as boss along with their flurry of January transfers which have boosted the side.

The Blaugrana are on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga while they have won their past five league games.

Barcelona has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closure of the January transfer window too, offering them momentum.

"I don't know if we can win the title, we can't rule out anything," Xavi told reporters after the Clasico. "Maybe we're a bit late, but this is a very big win for us.

"We were much better than Real Madrid. We played almost as a home team in the the ground. It's a day to enjoy, not only as a Barca manager but also a fan.

"We could easily have scored five or six. We changed our negative dynamic of losing the last few Clasicos."

Busquets reiterated Xavi's sentiment that Barca retained some title hope, albeit small.

"If we still have a small chance to make a run for the title, we will fight until the end," the 33-year-old midfielder said. "It's very difficult but in football anything can happen. We are Barca."

In just three words, Barcelona centre back Gerard Pique summed up the feelings of Blaugrana die-hards after beating Real Madrid 4-0: "We are back."

It was a stunning display away from home at the Santiago Bernabeu for Xavi's side, netting two goals in each half to spin the Spanish football world on its axis for a night.

Pique played all 90 minutes alongside centre back partner Eric Garcia, marshalling a stout defence to a stylish clean sheet and providing an outlet for the Barcelona midfielders as they retained 60 percent of possession.

Barca are now on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga, with six wins and four draws, as well as making it through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they will play Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Camp Nou club also has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closing of the January transfer window, sporting a goal-difference of plus-21 during that span.

Since Xavi took over in early November, Barcelona have taken 37 points from 16 LaLiga games, while Madrid have claimed 39 from 17 outings, indicating the rivalry may be much closer than this season's table indicates.

Barcelona head coach Xavi said the 4-0 Clasico thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu was the perfect template for how he wants his side to play.

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and goals from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres sealed a memorable win for the Blaugrana, who had lost their previous five games against Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders.

The win meant Xavi became just the third coach to win his first Clasico match by four or more goals in LaLiga history, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 and Helenio Herrera in 1959.

Barca were superior to their hosts in every department and Xavi believes his side can be a match for anyone if they continue to perform at that standard.

"We didn't expect to be so superior at their stadium," he told a media conference.

"They've had a rest week and we arrived from Turkey [after playing Galatasaray] on Friday. We played a spectacular game and I leave very satisfied.

"We have been far superior to Madrid, in the game and the result. We leave with tremendous satisfaction and a smile from ear to ear.

"I'm very happy for Barcelona for what it represents. It can change the dynamics of the present and future.

"Has Barca returned? I'll leave it to you. But yes, this is the idea and the game model to follow. We have very good players and they enjoy themselves on the pitch.

"And I would highlight how they work, how they help the team. We are a family in the locker room and is very important. 

"I'm very proud and happy. Barcelona fans have to enjoy it because lately we haven't had much joy, especially in the Clasicos. Playing like this we can compete with anyone.

"I'm very happy for the players, they've shown they're great footballers and it means a lot. I'm a rookie as a coach and winning 4-0 here strengthens me a lot. Barca has to compete playing this way."

 

Despite the result, third-placed Barca are still 12 points adrift of leaders Madrid, although they do have a game in hand. 

Xavi stopped short of claiming Barca are back in the title race, but he did say there is still plenty left for his side to achieve this season.  

"There is work to do," he added. "We won three points, it's not a title. Let's keep working, there's a lot left. The objectives have not been covered, not even for this season.

"I've already said it, as well as being a coach, I feel for this club. I think it's the best club in the world. We're going to celebrate now and enjoy it."

Barca are next in action on April 3 when they host second-placed Sevilla. 

Barcelona ended a five-game losing streak against Real Madrid in sensational style as they sealed an emphatic 4-0 Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Xavi's men were dominant from the outset and went in at the break two goals up following headers from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ronald Araujo.

They picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, with Ferran Torres and Aubameyang completing the scoring before the hour mark.

The Blaugrana are still 12 points behind Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders, although Xavi's third-placed side do have a game in hand. 

Federico Valverde drew a smart stop from Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the early stages, while at the other end Thibaut Courtois denied Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele in quick succession.

Torres then whipped narrowly wide from just outside the penalty area before Barca's dominance bore fruit in the 29th minute when Aubameyang headed in Dembele's right-wing cross from inside the six-yard box.

Courtois denied Aubameyang a second soon after, yet Madrid found themselves 2-0 behind after 38 minutes when an unmarked Araujo nodded home Dembele's corner from eight yards.

Torres made amends for a glaring miss 20 seconds into the second half with Barca's third in the 47th minute, the Spain international slamming into the net after he had been superbly picked out by Aubameyang's back-heeled pass. 

Aubameyang made it 4-0 in the 51st minute with a sumptuous finish over Courtois after being played in by Torres, the goal given by VAR after it had initially been ruled out for offside. 

Torres, Aubameyang and Dembele all had wonderful chances to compound Madrid's misery further, yet it mattered little in the end as Barca extended their unbeaten away run in LaLiga to 11 games in memorable fashion. 

What does it mean? Barca stun Ancelotti's insipid charges

Only Sevilla have conceded fewer goals than Madrid in LaLiga this season, yet Los Blancos' backline had no answer to Barca's breathtaking attacking display.

The result meant Xavi became only the second Blaugrana head coach to remain unbeaten after his first 10 away games in LaLiga after Ernesto Valverde, who did not lose any of his first 18. If the Catalan giants continue to play like this on the road, Xavi will have no issues powering past that record.

Aubameyang's hot streak continues

Aubameyang has wasted little time making an impact since his arrival from Arsenal last month. The Gabon international has now scored in each of his last five meetings with Madrid (seven goals), making him the first player to score in five successive games against Los Blancos in the 21st century.

Madrid's dismal defence

Eder Militao and David Alaba endured a torrid time against Barca's supreme forward line. The visitors broke through the duo's wafer-thin resistance with alarming ease and could easily have won by an even greater margin, with a combination of wasteful finishing and Courtois' goalkeeping stopping the scoring at four.

What's next?

Madrid are next in action on April 2 when they visit Celta Vigo in LaLiga, while Barca travel to Sevilla in the Spanish top flight a day later.

Xavi perfectly embodies the characteristics of Barcelona and has improved the Catalan giants since taking over, according to Real Madrid counterpart Carlo Ancelotti.

The pair are set to face off at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday in the third and final Clasico of the season, with Madrid boasting a 10-point lead at the LaLiga summit.

Barcelona are five points further back, albeit with a game in hand, in what has been a disappointing campaign on the whole for the club.

Results have improved over the past two months, however, with Xavi – appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor in November – steadily transforming his side's fortunes.

Since Xavi's appointment, Barcelona have taken 34 points from 15 games in LaLiga, a record only bettered by Madrid since then (39 points).

Thursday's 2-1 win over Galatasaray helped Xavi's side through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, meanwhile, and extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

That is Barca's longest-such streak since January 2020 under Ernesto Valverde, giving Xavi's side some momentum heading into their showdown with fierce rivals Madrid.

And Ancelotti, whose three defeats in five LaLiga meetings with Barca is his joint-worst against any side in LaLiga, along with Atletico Madrid, has been impressed by Xavi's work.

"The identity of Barcelona has not changed," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "They are a team with a very clear style and Xavi embodies it perfectly. 

"Barcelona have improved a lot and they are in a good dynamic. My opinion is that he is doing very well."

 

Xavi is still early in his coaching career, especially in comparison to veteran of the dugout Ancelotti, with Sunday's clash his second taste of this historic fixture as a manager.

The midfield legend is aiming to avoid becoming only the third Barca boss, after Ernesto Valverde and Ronald Koeman, to lose his first two Clasicos this century.

Defeat for Barca would see them fall 18 points behind the leaders, but Ancelotti insists the game in the Spanish capital is not make-or-break for the visitors.

"If we win we have three more points; if we tie, one; if we lose, none," he said. "I wouldn't rule out Barcelona in any case, whatever happens. Because they will fight until the end."

Should Barca avoid defeat, Xavi will become only the second Barca coach to go unbeaten in his first 10 LaLiga away games after Ernesto Valverde, who was unbeaten in 18.

Carlo Ancelotti has urged his Real Madrid players to use any pre-Clasico nerves to their advantage when they take on Barcelona at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Madrid face Barca in a key early season showdown in LaLiga, with the visitors two points better off than their fierce rivals heading into the much-anticipated game.

Los Blancos thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the Champions League in midweek, but they have taken just one point from the last six on offer in LaLiga.

After suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Espanyol three weeks ago, Madrid risk suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time since the final two games of the 2018-19 season.

Ancelotti has experience of facing Barcelona as Madrid boss from his first stint in charge and is fully aware of the magnitude of the contest.

"Worrying is a normal emotion. Sometimes even fear – they are positive feelings," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"If you are not afraid, you face the lion thinking that it is a cat. I have a strong team, a team with real quality.

"Fear is not a bad feeling. Fortunately, I am never scared because I think there are worse things in life than to lose a game."

 

Ancelotti was responding to comments made by opposite number Ronald Koeman earlier on Saturday when insisting Barca's players do not fear Madrid.

Madrid have won their last three games against Barcelona in all competitions and are looking to win four in a row for the first time since a run of seven in 1965.

The Catalans may no longer have record all-time goalscorer Lionel Messi in their ranks, but Ancelotti does not doubt the quality of the opposition.

"I don't like evaluating the squads of others," the Italian said. "But they have maintained that identity of playing good football. There's no Messi, but their youngsters are fantastic.

"It is tough to say who arrives in this game in better shape because Barca have played good games lately. In this type of match, there can be no favourite."

This will be the first season since 2004-05 that neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will make a Clasico appearance, with many suggesting the fixture has lost some of its lustre.

But Ancelotti, who has not won any of his five away managerial games against Barcelona in all competitions, does not see it that way.

"This is a special match for those who experience it," he said. "The feelings are the same as when Cristiano and Messi were involved.

"You don't have to look at the individuals. You have to look at the teams because there will always be Barca-Madrid before those and after those who are here now."

 

Having lost both previous games at Camp Nou as Madrid boss, Ancelotti could become just the second Los Blancos chief to lose his first three away El Clasicos after Leo Beenhakker, who suffered four defeats in a row between 1987 and 1988.

"I have never won at Camp Nou and now is the time to do it," Ancelotti said when that fact was put to him. "That said, it is never easy.

"There are three points on the line and if we want to win the league then we have to target them."

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman acknowledged the importance of Sunday's showdown with Real Madrid but insisted he does not feel under any additional pressure to win the match.

Barca head into the first Clasico of the season on the back of victories over Valencia and Dynamo Kiev in LaLiga and the Champions League respectively.

It is the first time this season the Catalans have won successive games and has eased the pressure on Koeman, who has the public backing of president Joan Laporta.

But Koeman's side are paying for a slow start to the campaign as they are down in seventh, two points behind Madrid and five off leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand.

The Dutchman is no stranger to arguably the most famous fixture in football, having enjoyed a hugely successful stint at Barca as a player, and is aware of the magnitude of Sunday's clash.

"I'm not under any more pressure. Being a Barca coach, I know the importance of what is ahead," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"I have lost and won Clasicos as a player. It is my first as a coach with an audience, which makes it different. I'm hopeful of winning the game.

"Winning is important as it would help us continue to build confidence with all the changes we made and the youngsters that are emerging.

"We work together to improve on the field. I don't feel like this is an exam for us, but it is a Clasico and we have to prove ourselves."

 

Laporta said ahead of the 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid on October 2 that Koeman deserved time to turn things around in what is just his second season at Camp Nou.

Asked if he still feels the support of his president, Koeman said: "I don't have to be told every day that I will continue in the job.

"I feel supported but I know everything depends on results. It's not about a single game, though this is an important week ahead of us and we must be prepared.

Barca have not won any of their last four LaLiga games against Madrid and have lost the last three Clasicos in all competitions – not since 1965 have they lost more in a row.

The Catalans could find themselves five points behind Madrid with a defeat, though a victory would see them overtake their bitter rivals.

"We enter the game in a good mood thanks to two victories," Koeman said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm to play and show our fans we want to win.

"A win in a Clasico can make a lot of difference between the good or bad. We know it's one of the most important games, but there is a long season still ahead.

"We can show we are on the right track, making a positive result very important. We have to play without fear and show our desire to win from the start."

While results have improved for Barca, Madrid have collected just one point from their last two league matches and risk losing successive LaLiga games for the first time since 2018-19.

"I'm a Barca coach, so it is difficult to answer, but I don't see a clear favourite," Koeman said when asked if there is anything to separate the two heavyweights.

"There is a difference in terms of experience, but we also have some experienced players in our squad, while they have some young players, so we are more or less the same.

"There are areas in which they are better than us and others in which we are better than them. We are playing at home and can have no fear. We want to show we're a good team."

Koeman confirmed Jordi Alba is available for selection despite sustaining a knock against Dynamo Kiev, but Pedri, Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele are not part of the squad.

Ronald Koeman insisted Barcelona remain upbeat and optimistic in their pursuit of the LaLiga title, despite suffering Clasico pain at the hands of Real Madrid.

Barca left the Spanish capital emptyhanded after Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos guided defending champions Madrid to a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Oscar Mingueza set up a dramatic final half-hour with his second goal of the season for Barca, while Madrid midfielder Casemiro was sent off in the 90th minute.

But Madrid held on at a sodden Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium to seal a third consecutive win against Barca in all competitions for the first time since 1978 as they provisionally moved top of the table, with Atletico Madrid in action on Sunday.

Barca are third and a point off the pace, though they could fall four points adrift if Atletico beat Real Betis.

"Of course we're still upbeat and optimistic because we've produced a serious performance," Barca head coach Koeman told reporters. "We are fighting.

"We lost a match against a team who are fighting to win the league but there are nine matches and all the matches are important for the three best teams.

"It's difficult for all three of us. We will come back, we will fight until the last match."

Barca attempted 12 shots in total in the second half, three of those on target, and nearly snatched a point when Ilaix Moriba struck the crossbar in the 94th minute.

But, Koeman became the first Barcelona coach to lose his first two LaLiga games against Madrid since Joaquim Rife in 1980 (also the first two).

Koeman could not hide his frustration post-match, having felt his side should have had a penalty when substitute Martin Braithwaite went down in the box under pressure from Ferland Mendy.

The former Netherlands boss said: "I'm not the only person who's upset about the decision, or lack of decision.

"The players feel disappointed because of this decision by the referee to not give the penalty and there's players who have been playing for years for Barcelona, so I know. But once again not all decisions were right.

"You should ask the players but I would like to include myself. We know that we've played a good match football wise, the first part, the first half, ok, we were not up to our standards. Real Madrid defended very well in the first half.

"There's no [league] match next week and the title [Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao] is at stake. We have a week to prepare for a difficult match so we'll carry on and we are strong."

Lionel Messi, meanwhile, failed to score in seven consecutive Clasicos in all competitions for the first time in his career.

Ronald Koeman insisted Barcelona were denied a "clear penalty" in their 2-1 loss to Real Madrid as he hit out at the officiating in Saturday's dramatic El Clasico.

Barca fell to a third consecutive defeat to bitter rivals Madrid in all competitions for the first time since 1978 as they missed out on the chance to move top of LaLiga.

Oscar Mingueza set up a thrilling final half-hour at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano when prodding in to halve the deficit following first-half strikes from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos. 

The visitors attempted 12 shots in total in the second half, three of those on target, and nearly snatched a point when Ilaix Moriba struck the crossbar in the 94th minute.

However, Koeman felt his side should have had a penalty when fellow substitute Martin Braithwaite went down in the box under pressure from Ferland Mendy.

And the Dutchman also questioned why more time was not added on at the end as a portion of the four allotted minutes was taken up by the officials resolving a technical issue.
 
"If you're a Barca fan or a Barca player, you're very unhappy with the result because I think there were two clear decisions that the referee didn't make that would have changed the game," he told LaLiga TV.

"I think we weren't good at all in the first 45. We weren't good in attack and we weren't good in defence.

"In the second half we improved but I only ask for a bit better when making key decisions because they are decisions that could have cost us the game and eventually they did.

"I think the added time as well was four minutes and it should have been added on. 

"He only added two minutes because of the issue with his microphone and there were quite a few more stoppages, also with the possible penalty towards the end. Once again, we have to accept it and shut up."

Defeat for Barca was their first in 20 league games since early December and saw them drop to third in LaLiga, a point behind Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, the latter of whom play their game in hand against Real Betis on Sunday.

When asked by reporter Ricardo Sierra if the two decisions that went against his side were defining moments, Koeman said: "Yes, of course. 

"The issue with the referee's microphone is a different issue completely. Obviously there were many things on the pitch that affected the result overall

"But I do think we should have gotten a clear penalty towards the end and I don't know why it wasn't reviewed by VAR.

"The linesman is there, he should assist with the decision. Everyone probably thinks it's a penalty. Do you think it's a penalty?"

Sierra failed to respond to Koeman's question, prompting the Barca boss to cut short the interview.

With this defeat, Koeman is the first Barcelona coach to lose his first two LaLiga games against Madrid since Joaquim Rife in 1980 (also the first two).

Ronald Koeman has no intention of resting Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong ahead of next week's El Clasico, despite both players being one booking away from a suspension.

Barca will be looking to extend their 18-match unbeaten run in LaLiga when they welcome Real Valladolid to Camp Nou on Monday.

Messi and De Jong are both available for the game as the Catalan giants look to keep the pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid, who are four points better off ahead of Sunday's trip to Sevilla.

However, both players risk being banned for next Saturday's showdown with bitter rivals Real Madrid, having each been booked four times already this season.

But while the pair may be walking a disciplinary tightrope, Koeman is ready to risk star man Messi and central midfielder De Jong against Valladolid.

"We know that these two players are one card away, but it is not the time to rest players due to cards or freshness," he said at Sunday's pre-match news conference.

"We have ten games left. There is always the risk, but the best thing is to put the team out that I think can win the game."

Messi has been directly involved in 23 league goals in 2021 - 16 goals and seven assists - which is more than any other player in the top five European leagues. 

The Argentinian has had a direct hand in eight goals in his last four LaLiga games against Real Valladolid - four goals and four assists.

Those goal involvements have helped Barca to 13 wins in their previous 14 LaLiga games against Valladolid, with the only exception being a 1-0 defeat away from home in March 2014.

Sergio Gonzalez's side have won just one of their past 11 league games, but Koeman will not take Monday's opponents lightly.

"You have to be prepared, you can't think that it will be an easy game," he said. "We have to go in with a lot of energy and rhythm and be good with the ball.

"We have to get back to our level. It could be a game without problems, but you always have to work hard to win."

Gerard Pique returned to training this week after recovering from a knee problem, while Sergi Roberto is also closing in on a comeback after two months on the sidelines.

Koeman will make a late decision on whether the defensive duo are ready to play a part against Valladolid.

"They are training with the team lately. They have improved a lot," he said.

"These are decisions that will be made tomorrow after the last training session. We aren't going to take risks [with injuries], nor next week, because there are more games coming this season."

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