Ex-Real Madrid star Pepe reaches unwanted personal milestone after defeat to Barcelona in Champions League with Porto
Real Madrid great Pepe has reached an unwanted personal milestone following Porto's loss to Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, November 28, at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium.
The Blaugrana edged past the Portuguese giants with a 2-1 win that solidified the Catalans' chances of earning a spot in the knockout stages. Although Porto scored first, Barca's determination was palpable, as they rallied from the early setback to secure the win.
Porto took the lead through Pepe but Barcelona's response was swift as Joao Cancelo leveled the scoreline just two minutes later. The match, which had been evenly poised in the first half, saw the Blaugrana assume control in the latter stages.
Xavi Hernandez's men eventually found the back of the net again through Joao Felix in the 57th minute. Porto, despite their efforts, found themselves outplayed, unable to mount any significant challenge as the match progressed and eventually ended in their loss.
The defeat also saw 40-year-old Real Madrid legend Pepe reach an unwanted milestone. This was his tenth defeat against Barcelona, the most he has lost to any club.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti backs Xavi during Barcelona's challenging phase
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti backed his Barcelona counterpart, Xavi. During a challenging phase for the Blaugrana, Ancelotti's words come as a notable endorsement.
Recently, the Catalans have found themselves in a rough patch, exemplified by a nail-biting draw against Rayo Vallecano, which was salvaged only by a late own goal. Xavi, facing increased scrutiny, publicly called on his players to elevate their game.
The Real Madrid manager, in a recent press conference, acknowledged the pressure but expressed his belief in Xavi's capabilities. He said (via GOAL):
"Xavi, like me, knows football very well, and there is criticism. Sometimes it can happen, but Xavi has the experience to manage all this. He knows the atmosphere (around Barca) and I think he has everything he needs to manage the situation."
Barca's current campaign contrasts sharply with their last season's triumph, as they now find themselves in a precarious fourth position in the league. With a critical match against Girona on the horizon, they will need to step up their game in the coming weeks.