Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez named Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie as his two “heroes” after the two midfielders scored in a 2-1 win over Real Madrid that has sent the Catalans 12 points clear at the top of the table in Spain.
Roberto was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI for El Clasico, taking the injured Pedri’s place, and netted a vital equalizer after a Ronald Araujo own goal had put the visitors ahead.
Kessie then came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner for Barcelona that puts them in a commanding position to win La Liga with just 12 games of the season left to play.
Xavi spoke about both players after the match while on Viaplay and explained he had found it difficult deciding which players to start in midfield alongside Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets and Gavi.
“I had some doubts until the very end, Sergi or Franck – who? Those were the two options I had,” he added. “Finally it worked well because both have scored. They were both heroes. Sergi understands the positional game very well. He knows when to be the third man, when to come from the second line. And Franck scored the winning goal.
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Roberto Quietens Critics
Roberto has regularly been criticized by some sections of the Barcelona fanbase but certainly quietened his detractors with a goal. The veteran was also named the MVP after the final whistle.
The 31-year-old’s strike was his first goal against Los Blancos, and he spoke after the game at his delight at finally opening his account against Madrid, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Against Madrid I’ve always been pretty good I’ve been able to make a lot of assists, but the goal was missing,” he said. “I received the ball inside the area, with little space and I’ve put it in the only gap. Going into half-time with the goal gave us a positive start to the second half and we came out plugged in.”
Roberto now has 4 La Liga goals this season in 17 outings for Barcelona which is as many as he’s managed in his last four seasons with the club in total, as highlighted by Opta.
Kessie Nets Landmark Goal
Kessie is also not guaranteed a starting spot at Barcelona but has proven a useful squad member since arriving on a free transfer in the summer. The Ivorian’s goal against Madrid was his first in La Liga and also brought up a landmark for Barcelona.
The Catalans have now scored 3,000th times in La Liga at the Camp Nou, with Kessie the man to hit the milestone, ensuring his name will go down in the club’s rich and varied history.
Kessie admitted after the game in an interview with Barca TV that it’s a moment that will live long in the memory.
“This was a very important goal for me, in a Clasico, at home, at Camp Nou,” he said. “It was the goal 3,000 for Barca at Camp Nou, so that’s very special to me.”
Barcelona now take a break from La Liga action, due to an international break, and do not play again until Sunday, April 1 when they take on bottom side Elche in La Liga.