Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez said it seemed like Real Madrid’s opponents were under a “curse” as they claimed a third consecutive Champions League trophy.
Zinedine Zidane’s side moved through the knockout stages of the competition past Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich to the final against Liverpool — when the Reds key player Mohamed Salah left injured and goalkeeper Loris Karius made two costly mistakes as Los Blancos won 3-1 in Kiev.
Speaking on Catalan radio show “El Penalti de Radio Estel” the Al Sadd playmaker also pointed to key opponents being injured, and refereeing decisions that had gone Madrid’s way.
“Real Madrid had everything go their way,” Xavi said. “Injuries like Neymar, [Arjen] Robben, [Jerome] Boateng, the referees, Liverpool’s most important player [Mohamed Salah] getting injured, mistakes from the Bayern and Liverpool goalkeepers. It is like a curse.”
Xavi has continued to publicly defend Barca’s interests after leaving the Camp Nou in 2015, but this time admitted that in recent years Madrid had a “winning gene” in Europe especially, while Barca’s transfer decision-makers had been “sleeping” and “did not know what they are doing.”
He said: “Madrid have this winning gene and Barca have slept, for years, when it comes to signings. Those who make the signings do not know what they are doing, and you pay for that. It seems Barca win [La Liga] titles, but the others [Madrid] are winning the Champions League.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan