Saturday 18 November 2017

Alves glad to see of Madrid

Dani Alves conceded Barcelona and Real Madrid were sick of the sight of each other after the Catalan side rounded off a tetchy series of Clasico encounters by reaching the final of the Champions League.

Barca and Madrid drew 1-1 at the Nou Camp last night, giving the hosts a 3-1 aggregate victory and a place in the Wembley showpiece, most likely against Manchester United.

It was the fourth in a mini-series of games which saw the teams square off in the Champions League, Primera Division and Copa del Rey final.

And though Madrid took home the silverware from the Mestalla, there is little doubt Barca have the upper hand overall, with a Wembley final place to go alongside an eight-point lead in La Liga.

Madrid were less than magnanimous in defeat last night, with several key figures, including Cristiano Ronaldo and assistant coach Aitor Karanka, who was in charge in the absence of Jose Mourinho, aiming barbs at the Catalans after the game.

And Alves told "I don't think we could stand each other any more after so many games in a row.

"It is a shame things like this happen in football. When Barca lost the cup, we congratulated them. If they aren't like that, it shows the difference between Barca and Madrid. We are more than a club.

"In football, the best team always gets rewarded.

"They have their script, we're not going to get involved in that."

Xavi was similarly dismissive in his assessment, reiterating widespread criticisms from last week that Madrid's tactics were too negative.

"It's a unique moment. We think it was footballing justice. We're back at Wembley," he said.

"It is a shame Madrid justify themselves like that. The only team that went out to win the match was Barca."

Midfielder Javier Mascherano was among those who attracted attention for the wrong reasons last night for what looked like a dive in the build-up to a disallowed Madrid goal.

But he kept things in perspective as he considered a final against likely opponents Manchester United - who boast a 2-0 advantage over Schalke going into tonight's second leg at Old Trafford - and even found time to praise Barca's vanquished rivals.

"We have to think that nothing has been achieved yet," he said. "(But) everybody knows how hard it is to get this far.

"(We're) fair finalists, even though Madrid also deserve to be there after the great season they have had."

He added: "Although everybody has the right to say what they think, I think Barca were the better team for the 180 minutes of the game."

Pedro was the hero last night, effectively killing the game off with the opening goal before Marcelo levelled for Madrid.

He said: "These are very tense games, it was hard. We knew it would be difficult, but we worked hard.

"The team played well, it was tough but we finally got our reward and we're going to the final. We feel so happy."

Pedro appeared to write off Schalke's chances of an unlikely comeback, saying: "I hope we can win, but Manchester are also a great team."

Xavi added: "Manchester are the favourites. They're a great team that also likes to play football, and perhaps that's good for us."

Barca could wrap up the Primera Division title this weekend if they beat Espanyol and Madrid fail to win at Sevilla.

Press Association

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