Tense calm in Barca dressing room over Vinicius Junior 'provocations'

Tense calm in Barca dressing room over Vinicius Junior 'provocations'

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The Barça dressing room is trying to avoid a heated atmosphere at all costs this Saturday at Montjuïc, in the first clásico of the season against Real Madrid. The Blaugrana side believe that factors external to the game can only be detrimental to them. Barça want to talk on the pitch. They know that what benefits them is the ball and the game and that is the message that Xavi Hernández has conveyed to his players.

Despite the important absentees, the blaugrana coach has full confidence in the footballing superiority of his players over Real Madrid. Even without Jules Koundé, Sergi Roberto and Pedri, already ruled out, and the conditioned participation, after injury, of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Frenkie de Jong. Xavi is not even sure if he can count on them, but what he does know is that everything that is not football plays in favour of the rival.

"I don't like anything that generates tension. Neither this tweet nor the referees being conditioned. You have to play a derby with respect and public admiration. We've already experienced derbies with a lot of tension and I won't be the one to generate it," said Xavi about Miquel Camps' tweet against Vinicius after the win over Shakhtar in the third round of the Champions League group stage. And that same message is the one he has sent to his players.

And Ferran Torres and Alejandro Balde did just that at the open day for the television stations that have rights to the game. The players from Foios and La Verneda avoided controversy and swerved when questioned about whether they thought Vinicius was provoking opponents with the way he played.

Ferran and Balde answered shortly. "He can provoke you more or less, but everyone has their own style," said the striker. "I don't think it provokes. Everyone has their own way of playing," said the full-back. Two almost identical answers with which the Blaugrana dressing room made it clear that the battle will be on the pitch. As Pep Guardiola said to José Mourinho in that historic press conference before the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals in 2011, in response to the then Real Madrid coach's constant provocations in the press room.

Madrid have taken advantage of the Barça manager's tweet against Vinicius to try and stir up the tense atmosphere. And the president of Real Madrid himself, Florentino Pérez, helped to raise the tension by refusing to go to the Montjuïc box. The Blaugrana dressing room has made it clear this Thursday that it will not enter into any provocation.

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