Barcelona coach Xavi said Real Madrid beat his team in the Clasico because they were more mature.
Los Blancos earned a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu to replace Barca at the top of La Liga on Sunday, moving three points clear of their Catalan rivals.
The defeat came after a draw with Inter Milan in the Champions League which leaves Barcelona on the verge of a second successive group stage elimination.
“They beat us on maturity, in knowing how to compete,” Xavi told a press conference. “We competed worse than our opponents, that’s why we lost the game. They are a team that’s more mature than ours at this moment.”
Barcelona signed various players in the summer, including La Liga’s current top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.
Real Madrid’s side is more settled, with the only player starting the Clasico not at the club last season being midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.
Madrid moved ahead through Karim Benzema after Vinicius Junior got behind Sergi Roberto, with Fede Valverde drilling home the second. Ferran Torres pulled one back but a Rodrygo penalty sealed Madrid’s win.
“We played against a great team, who are very sure of their plan,” continued Xavi. “The first goal cannot be allowed to happen. And you go in at 2-0 down, after they had just three chances and we made various.
“We have to mature. Against Inter, Bayern Munich, in Milan, here, these are games where we weren’t (mature enough), but we will learn.”
Barcelona host Villarreal on Thursday as they look to keep the pressure on the division’s new leaders, who visit Elche on Wednesday.
“We have to change the dynamic,” added Xavi. “The season is very long, sometimes you’re down, but we have to be strong, keep believing, working, I don’t know any other way to get to success.
“These are just three points and now we have to prepare for the next game against Villarreal.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta was asked to leave the officials’ dressing room after going there to ask questions about decisions following the defeat, per referee Jose Sanchez Martinez’s official report.
Madrid were given a late penalty when Eric Garcia stepped on Rodrygo’s foot, while Robert Lewandowski was clattered by Dani Carvajal but Barcelona were not awarded a spot-kick.
“I thought the referee did well,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “We were the better team, stronger, we managed to bring the ball out well, as they were pressing a lot high up.
“Defensively we did well with everyone together and committed, in the first half is where we won the game.”
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, who played a key role in the first goal, was one of the best performers. The former Germany international has a contract which expires in 2023 and according to Spanish reports has not decided if he will stay with Madrid.
“He knows perfectly well what we all think, me, his team-mates, the club,” said Ancelotti. “We don’t need to push him, he’s so smart, and Madrid like him so much that whatever decision he takes, we will be happy.”