Barcelona head coach Xavi was keen to remind his players that Sunday’s trip to Atletico Madrid “won’t decide anything” as he looked to ease the pressure on the league leaders.
Barca headed into matchday 16 at LaLiga’s summit thanks to having a better goal difference than Real Madrid.
But with Los Blancos in action on Saturday, Barca could begin the game trailing Carlo Ancelotti’s men in the table.
It promises to be one of Barca’s toughest fixtures of the season and comes amid an underwhelming return to action following the World Cup, with the Blaugrana held to a 1-1 draw at home to Espanyol last Saturday before needing extra time to beat third-tier opponents Intercity 4-3 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Xavi did not want to overstate the importance of Sunday’s game, even if he tempered his tranquillity by highlighting Barca’s habit of shooting themselves in the foot with individual errors.
“Every week is like this: the next game is the most important. It won’t decide anything, but [dropping points] would be a blow on the table,” he told reporters.
“It’s a complicated place to go and they are a rock defensively. It will be difficult for us to generate things and we have to be more effective than in the last few two games, [but] it’s not a transcendental game for the future of LaLiga.”
Regarding their mistakes, he added: “It’s more of a mental issue than a game issue.