Doha, Qatar: When Xavi says, “in football, there is always revenge,” it is safe to assume that he means it from the bottom of the heart.
Barcelona’s matches against Real Madrid have always been relentless, edge-of-the-seat thrillers, where winning is the only thing and Xavi has had his fair share of triumphs and tribulations during a stunning career that lasted 17 years.
Al Sadd and Al Duhail are not exactly like Barcelona and Real Madrid, but when the champion clubs of Qatar take on each other in the Qatar Cup final at the Al Sadd Stadium on Friday, he will have another chance to experience how revenge feels like, except that this time he will be on the sidelines, pulling the strings of his pack of Wolves.
Sadd lost 1-4 to Duhail when the teams last met, in the Qatar Stars League in November, and it is payback time.
“We lost 1-4 to Duhail and that is an extra motivation for us,” said Xavi.
“We will put in our 100 per cent, we will fight to win. It will be a tough match but we will be ready.
“They are of the strongest teams in Asia and if they also put in their 100 per cent we will face many difficulties. It will be an exciting match,” said Xavi who was admittedly calmer and comfortable after the fuss made by Barcelona when they came calling with his dream job.
“Yes, I received an offer from Barcelona, but I did not agree with that offer because I see that it is too early to go now. I dream of training them one day, but the time has not come yet,” said Xavi.
Sadd played one of their best matches of the season to beat Al Rayyan in the semis, but Duhail, coached by Rui Faria, would be a different proposition.
“Rui Faria is a great coach technically and I respect him a lot. He is doing a great job, he has a lot of experience having worked with Jose Mourinho,” said Xavi.
Under Faria, Duhail are not exactly the goal machines they once used to be, but the Red Knights have been consistently good.
They had an eight-match winning run which ended with a goalless draw against Qatar SC at the start of the month and they are still unbeaten in the league.
Mario Mandzukic will definitely give Sadd defenders plenty of added headaches while Edmilson Junior and Youssef Msakni are always tricky players to contain.
“It is the final match. It is a game that gives you the opportunity to win the title. We know that small details will be important, we have to be at the highest level of readiness technically and collectively, and also focused,” said Faria.
“We have studied our opponents, we have our dreams and we have prepared properly for this final. We realize that we have to play with top concentration especially that we are facing strong opponents.
Duhail defeated Sadd in the Emir Cup last season despite playing with 10 men for a long period and Faria woyuld be happy with such a performance from the team.
“We put a good performance in the Amir Cup final last season, as we played that match with one player for half an hour. But what the players did on the field and focus helped the team a lot. I do not expect a similar game. We have prepared well and we know that we are facing a strong team, so our target is a collective display, which should help us win.