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Barcelona could not afford to risk Pedri against Real Madrid — Xavi

Barcelona manager Xavi has said he does not want to risk Pedri in tomorrow’s El Clasico in fear the midfielder could suffer an injury setback.

The 20-year-old starlet has been out since suffering a hamstring injury during Barcelona’s defeat by Manchester United in the Europa League on February 16.

Pedri had hoped he could feature in Sunday’s home match against Real Madrid but the Spaniard was unable to complete Friday’s training session.

Xavi said the match has come too early for Pedri as he is not back to full fitness.

“It was a bit early for Pedri, we knew that,” said Xavi. “There was a risk but he wanted to train yesterday.

“He did not feel 100 per cent ready. In this sort of game, if you are not at full capacity, you can’t play. It’s a pity but he does not have to force. It’s not a final. We don’t want to lose Pedri for two more months.”

Xavi wants his players to be more dominant than they were during their last match against Real Madrid earlier this month.

Barcelona won 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie on that occasion thanks to an own goal by Eder Militao but Real Madrid dominated with 65 per cent possession.

“We are preparing the game in a certain way,” said Xavi. “We’ll try to be more dominant than we were last time against them. We will try to be more active with it than we were at the Bernabeu.

“We have worked on many aspects this week to be more dominant. I see the team in a good moment. We expect Camp Nou to be loud and helpful for us.

“I see Real Madrid in a really good moment. From a physical angle, way better than when we played in January. At the end it’s a Clasico and you can’t predict anything.”


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(Photo: Getty Images)

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