Xavi Hernandez said his young Barcelona team could leave with their “heads held high”, despite losing to Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday.
Barca were beaten 3-2 after extra-time in Saudi Arabia to make it five consecutive Real Madrid victories in Clasico games.
But Xavi’s side, who sit 17 points behind the La Liga leaders, were far from outclassed and instead showed why there is great hope at the club for the future.
“It was clear that it was a day when we showed courage and took responsibility with the ball. Today was a day to go out with your head held high despite the defeat,” said Xavi afterwards.
“We were superior to Madrid in many moments,” he added.
Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema twice gave Real Madrid the lead but both times Barcelona pegged them back, with Luuk de Jong equalising before half-time and then Ansu Fati heading in to force extra-time.
Fede Valverde scored the winner to send Madrid through to Sunday’s final, when they will meet either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao, who play the second semi on Thursday.
“It’s two different feelings,” said Xavi. “A very bad feeling of defeat but on the other hand we can feel very proud of the game. We need a little more patience.”
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with his team’s ruthlessness on the break.
“The game was even, they had more possession, we had more counter-attacks,” Ancelotti said.
Gerard Pique said Barcelona are getting closer to being a team that can challenge for trophies again.
“I think playing like this we are going to start winning and start competing for lots of titles,” Pique said.