London : Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has laid bare the ever existing rift between the Catalan and Real Madrid players in Spain’s national team by taking a dig at Los Blancos manager Jose Mourinho ahead of their crucial Euro match with Italy on Sunday.
Xavi claimed his club captain, Carles Puyol, and national coach Vicente del Bosque had to intervene to repair the fractured morale between the club rivals.
Those strains are unlikely to be assisted by Xavi’s latest assessment of Madrid’s recent title triumph as merely “efficient” and his questioning of Mourinho’s status.
“Mourinho won’t go down in football history. For me Guardiola is the best, and he has been during the four years, he’s been in charge at Barca because he’s revolutionised football,” Xavi said.
“Barca continue to be the reference point for football the world over. Barça has also been an example, Madrid not so much. They’ve only recognised that we were better when we won,” he added.
“We’ve always been respectful, but they haven’t been so gracious. It’s a personal feeling,” he said.
Xavi said Barcelona’s 5-0 La Liga hammering of Madrid in 2010, which he described as the best moment of the Guardiola era, damaged relationships in the Spain squad.
The playmaker added: “It caused problems with some of my friends. Puyol and Del Bosque were important in making sure everything settled down in the end.”