Barcelona manager Xavi and captain Sergio Busquets were in awe of young star Gavi's "incredible" performance as the Blaugrana beat arch-enemies Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.
18-year-old Gavi opened the scoring as Barca crushed Los Blancos 3-1 in Sunday's showpiece, played in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. The 2022 Golden Boy award winner, full name Pablo Martin Paez Gavira and a product of Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, was electric on the left flank and gave Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal a torrid time by registering a goal and an assist.
Gavi's ice-cool finish in the 33rd minute got Barcelona off to the perfect start the in the 251st edition of El Clasico. The Spain international then set up Robert Lewandowski for a simple tap-in before half-time, leaving his manager "speechless". 2021 Golden Boy Pedri made it 3-0 in the second half, while Karim Benzema powered home an added-time consolation strike for Real Madrid.
"I'm left speechless," Xavi told Marca of Gavi after winning his first trophy as Blaugrana boss. "He's pure passion, pure soul. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when he doesn't play. He's contagious for the team and he's only 18 years old. The heart he puts into it is incredible.
"Gavi is a kid who excites us all. He puts in soul and character and infects the rest of the team with it. He is an innate leader and it comes from within. The rage that comes out of him is spectacular. I never tire of praising him. This boy has no ceiling."
34-year-old Busquets, who lifted the Supercopa de Espana for the seventh time in his distinguished career, fully agreed with his gaffer. He said, via Mundo Deportivo : "Gavi is a competitive animal. At that age, most players are in the youth team, but he's here, playing at an incredible level, scoring goals and giving assists. I would tell him to keep on learning and listening. I hope he marks an era at Barca."
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It was a triumphant day for Barca, who ended their two-year trophy drought in emphatic fashion. With a three-point lead over Real at the top of the La Liga table, despite losing this season's first El Clasico, Xavi took the opportunity to respond to critics of his side following the victory in Saudi Arabia.
"This squad has received a lot of unfair criticism, and today many players have set themselves free. They will work more calmly," the former Barcelona midfielder, who has been in charge at the Camp Nou for 14 months, declared. "I've been here for so many years and I know how much players suffer when things don't go well. Today is the start of a new positive dynamic."