Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham praised FC Barcelona rival and head coach Xavi Hernandez in an interview for TVE ahead of the two teams meeting in El Clasico on Saturday.
With Barca defending La Liga champions and currently trailing the team from the capital by a single point, the outcome of the match could have a considerable influence on where the title ends up come late May.
To one of Spain’s biggest media outlets, Bellingham said that he views Barca as a “hard-working team thanks to the work of Xavi Hernandez”.
“I’m very excited about my first Clasico against an opponent I respect. It’s always a good time to face an opponent like Barcelona, because we both have a squad with a lot of quality,” Bellingham added.
Joining Los Blancos from Borussia Dortmund in the summer as a part of a $109 million transfer, Bellingham, who has gotten off to a roaring start at the Bernabeu, claims not to be nervous about making his maiden appearance in the world’s biggest derby.
“For everything it generates, I feel more motivation than nerves before this kind of match,” he said, while picturing a victory for his team “if we do everything we know how to do”.
“I know the impact that a Clasico has on the fans, the media and football in general and I feel, at the same time, the responsibility towards the club and the fans to get the three points”.
Notching eleven goals and three assists across twelve appearances so far, Bellingham stated that he is happier with the outcome of games and his contribution to the team above his impressive stats.
“I have a lot of freedom to express my football thanks to my teammates and the coaching staff, and the feeling I have is that I’m enjoying myself,” Bellingham said.
Also in the interview, Bellingham confirmed that he will feature for Carlo Ancelotti’s men in El Clasico despite a knock picked up against Braga in the Champions League.
Bellingham netted what proved to be the decider in a 2-1 win which kept the 14-time winners top in Group C, and will hope to have a similar impact away at Barca this weekend.