Xavi: It was 'footballing justice' for Barça to knock Real out of Europe

World Cup winner says negative Madrid deserved to lose semi-final while Alves criticises lack of grace in defeat
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The Independent Online

Barcelona's Champions League win over Real Madrid was "footballing justice", the Catalan club's midfielder Xavi declared yesterday. The midfielder believes that Madrid's negative tactics meant Barcelona deserved to progress to the Wembley final, which they did with a 3-1 aggregate victory in the semi-final on Tuesday night. Real's manager, Jose Mourinho, had been heavily criticised for his defensive approach to the first leg.

"It's a unique moment," reflected Xavi after the triumph. "We think it's footballing justice. We're back at Wembley." The World Cup-winning midfielder was scathing about his opponents, though. "It is a shame Madrid justify themselves like that," he said. "The only team that went out to win the match was Barça."

Dani Alves was similarly critical. The Brazilian right-back said that Real's lack of graciousness in defeat suggested a moral superiority for Barcelona, and expressed his relief at not having to play Madrid again until next season. "I don't think we could stand each other any more after so many games," Alves said. "It is a shame things like this happen in football. When Barça lost the Copa del Rey final, we congratulated Real. If they aren't like that, it shows the difference. 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."

Mourinho's criticisms of the officiating during the first leg led to him receiving a touchline ban from the second leg. Former Real president Ramon Calderon hit out at Mourinho, saying his conduct was not in the best traditions of the club. "What he did in terms of talking about Uefa and referees is not acceptable at all. It doesn't match with Real Madrid's history," Calderon said. "I assume he's a very, very good manager, but talking like that has been harmful for Real Madrid."

Current Real Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano was more supportive, however. "Barcelona came out on top and we congratulate them," he said, "but this tie was influenced by the officiating. We hope we are luckier in the future."

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