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Xavi: "Iker is the soul of Madrid, but they'll cope without him"

"I read the news and I can see that Madrid are not in the best shape at an institutional level. But they will be very difficult opponents in the semi-finals."

Xavi: "Iker is the soul of Madrid, but they'll cope without him"

Xavi Hernández gave a press conference on Friday, the day after Barcelona beat Málaga 4-2 at La Rosaleda to advance into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, where they will face Real Madrid. Talk of the Clásico dominated proceedings, but the midfielder also spoke about Osasuna, Barça's opponents in the league this weekend, the 'mini-Clásico' between Barça B and Real Madrid Castilla on Sunday and Victor Valdés's decision to not renew his contract with the club.

Real Madrid's problems: "It's a complicated situation, and it's not for me to give my opinion on. I read the news and I can see that the club is not in the best shape at an institutional level. But they will be very difficult opponents in the semi-finals and it will be very for us to beat them."

"Barça-Madrid is always a tough game, there's always tension, nerves, everyone wants to win, but that's it. We'll try and put on the best possible show for everyone."

Barça's chances against Madrid: "Playing the second leg at home will help us. It will be important for us to score, the more times we find the net, the better. We have a difficult game but we have the chance to finish off the tie at home in front of our fans. Clásicos are very unpredictable, you never know if it's a good time for the team or not. We are feeling good about ourselves at the moment, we've been dominating games, but we are ready to compete. They are very strong physically and they are very good on the counter. We need to minimise the amount of errors we make and have a lot of possession."

His relationship with Casillas: "I speak with him a lot, we send each other messages. I sent him my best wishes as soon as he was left out of the Madrid team, I was taken by surprise by that. It was a shock to me that a player who has spent so many years as the number one and who was always in the team could suddenly be left out, but that's their problem."

Casillas's injury: "It's one more problem for them, he is the heart and soul of Real Madrid and their captain. He's a huge loss for Madrid and for Spain."

Will Madrid's losses - Coentrao, Di María, Ramos and Casillas can't play the first leg - benefit Barça? "Whoever plays for Madrid will perform well. Even though they'll have important players missing, they have other players that can compete."

Killing off matches: "In general we are playing well but we are lacking that bit extra in order to close out games. It happened to us in Anoeta and yesterday in Málaga we could have killed the game off earlier. I think we were playing very well and we are on the way to reaching that level again. Now we've got a mouth-watering game with Madrid coming up, which we're going to try and enjoy in every sense."

Valdés: "He will come out and speak soon. Everyone needs to respect his decision, he is an extraordinary player and he deserves respect, he's an example to all of us. I speak to him a lot and I knew what his decision was going to be, he'd thought about it for a long time and weighed everything up."

Fábregas and Iniesta: "I feel comfortable when I see my team-mates in front of me, giving me passing options, it's good to have players to choose from, Iniesta works well down the wing and Fábregas is versatile and combines well with Andrés, it's a luxury to have both of them in the team."

Osasuna: "We want to start up another winning spell in the league, but (Osasuna coach Jose Luis) Mendilibar will put pressure on us up front and they could cause us problems."

'Mini-Clásico': "It's being treated like a first-team game, it's the game of the year for them, it should be a great spectacle."

Estadísticas AS.com