‘They’re the problem’ – Former Real Madrid star blames Barcelona for Clásico downturn

A former member of the midfield ranks at La Liga giants Real Madrid has today taken aim at Barcelona.

This, of course, comes ahead of the impending showdown between Spanish football’s two biggest clubs this weekend.

In what could prove itself to be the decisive fixture in the title race, Real Madrid are set to play host to Barcelona on Sunday night, at the Santiago Bernabéu.

In the case of a victory for the former, Los Blancos will all but confirm their status as new La Liga champions, by way of an 11-point advantage atop the table.

On the other hand, should Xavi’s Barca’s defy the odds to emerge triumphant, they will close the gap to a not-insurmountable five points.

Safe to say, then, that all of Spain will no doubt be firmly glued to their screens in 48 hours’ time.

And yet, despite the stakes, one individual who feels as though El Clásico has lost some of its allure when compared to years gone by comes in the form of Mesut Özil.

Midfielder Özil, of course, played his part in some of the most memorable Real-Barca matchups in recent memory, during the famed Mourinho vs Guardiola era.

The German, though, is of the opinion that the fixture is no longer viewed as world football’s most important, a development for which he blames one party and one party only – Barcelona.

“At that time it was the most important match in the world of football,” Özil began, after being drawn on this weekend’s meeting between his former club and Barcelona during an interview with Marca.

“Unfortunately for us, Barça was perhaps the best Barça in history. Pep’s Barça was at another level, certainly different from the current Barça. I think that right now worldwide attention is focused more on matches like Liverpool-Manchester City or other Premier League duels. Here I think that the Clásico has gone down and it is a shame. But that is not Real Madrid’s fault, as they are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the world. The problem is Barça, which has lost potential.”

Özil was not done there, either, making use of a question regarding Real Madrid’s favourite status for Sunday to aim a dig at Xavi and co. for what he views as a lack of accountability for their shortcomings:

“Barcelona is fighting, they are trying. They have good players in all positions, but they have had too many injuries this season and perhaps they should pay more attention to themselves and their mistakes and not always complain about the referees. This doesn’t help. Madrid is having a fantastic season. I didn’t expect it after Karim left the club, but they are doing very well.”

Conor Laird | GSFN

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