Xavi Hernandez
Xavi Hernandez AFP / KARIM JAAFAR

FC Barcelona were fortunate to come away with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday. Despite struggling to keep the ball, the visitors managed to secure a victory thanks to an own goal by Real Madrid defender Eder Militao.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez is happy to take the win, but he is under no illusion that his squad is on the front foot heading into the second leg. On the contrary, he pointed out that Los Blancos are still the favourites to advance, and that his side need a lot to improve if they want to win the second leg.

In the post-match press conference, Xavi highlighted his side's weaknesses and shortcomings during the match. "We have not been able to keep the ball. It has been difficult for us to win duels to have possession, but we have defended very well. We have fought until the end and that's very positive."

Indeed, the Barcelona defence was their strong point all evening, with the backline managing to prevent the hosts from putting even one shot on target. However, the Balugrana only had a dismal 35% of possession, and Xavi did not hesitate to laud Real Madrid's midfield duo of Toni Kross and Luka Modric.

"Today we cannot boast. This is not the game we want. We want to generate more scoring chances. It is not the game we want. They dominated us with the ball. How do you take the ball from Kroos and Modric? They have to be valued and they're extraordinary," he said, as quoted by Managing Madrid.

The former midfielder knows that the Barcelona advantage is slim, and he emphasised that Real Madrid are still going to be a force to be reckoned with when the return leg takes place at the Camp Nou in five weeks.

"The 0-1 gives us a certain advantage, but we are going to have to compete very well against a very strong Real Madrid side. I still see Madrid as a favourite," he concluded.

The El Clasico victory will have boosted the Barcelona morale after the club sustained back-to-back losses against Manchester United in the Europa League and against Almeria in La Liga. There is nothing like a victory against Real Madrid to lift spirits in the Barcelona dressing room, and they will hope to keep the momentum when they face Valencia in a crucial La Liga match on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pitch, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is obviously disappointed with the result. His squad dominated for most of the match but they simply could not penetrate inside the box. To add insult to injury, the own goal by Militao handed their opponents the victory.

Brazilian forward Rodrygo Goes came close to a chance at goal, but his shot went wide and ended up in disappointment. After keeping the ball for most of the match, Real Madrid felt like they deserved more from the night.

Ancelotti did not mince his words while describing the loss. "It is a very bad result. It was not deserved because we played well on our part, and with intensity. We did not allow Barcelona to play as they want, they have had a very low block, we have put a lot of pressure," he said.

He also praised the opponents for their performance, especially on the defensive end. "They have a very strong defence behind them. We put a lot into the game but without success," said the Italian.

There is no doubt that Real Madrid will be raring to play the second leg, especially with their track record of astonishing comebacks. Likewise, they will want to put the setback behind them quickly when they travel to face Real Betis in La Liga this weekend. They are seven points behind Barcelona, and every point will count in the next few months if they want to retain the La Liga title.