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Xavi focused for final push

Midfielder Xavi Hernández insists "anything is possible" against Manchester United FC as FC Barcelona look to end a difficult season by reaching the final in Moscow.

Xavi Hernández has called for the fans backing on Wednesday
Xavi Hernández has called for the fans backing on Wednesday ©Getty Images

FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández insists "anything is possible" against Manchester United FC as his side look to end a difficult campaign on a high by reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League. 

Is it a privilege for you to play in a UEFA Champions League semi-final against a team like Manchester United?

Xavi: Yes, the fact we're still playing in this competition and we've managed to get to the semis is, as you say, an enormous privilege. Add to that, we are playing against Man U, a team widely considered to be one of the best in Europe. They play similar football to us, they like to have possession. They play attacking football, they have extraordinary players in midfield and in attack. I think it is going to be a great spectacle.

It's pity it is not the final, don't you think?

Xavi: Yes, many people say these two teams should be playing the final but I think that is a bit disrespectful to Liverpool and Chelsea. They have a different style of football but it is nevertheless highly effective. Liverpool and Chelsea are very similar in style. The final will have a team that likes to have control of the ball and likes attacking football and another team playing more defensively, but very functional.

You have talked about the characteristics of the English teams. There are three in the semi-finals. How would you explain their success?

Xavi: I think the Premier League has improved dramatically from five, six or seven years ago when a number of overseas players started playing there. I think there is a lot of potential still untapped in English teams. English football is very healthy at the moment; there are many very good English players who have blended very well with their European counterparts.

What is your opinion of Barça's performance in the UEFA Champions League this year?

 It has been very good. We have not lost any matches and have reached a good level of play although I think there is room for improvement.

Your campaign in the Primera División has been very frustrating to say the least. Would the UEFA Champions League trophy help paper over the cracks?

Xavi: Absolutely. If we won, it would be the third in the club's history and the season would have been a success. Winning the league now is going to be very difficult. We are more hopeful about the Champions League than the Spanish league.

How do you explain Barça's downturn since winning the 2006 UEFA Champions League?

Nothing has changed. We have the same coach and pretty much the same players. We are looking for possible explanations and perhaps the fact we won two Spanish leagues and a Champions League might have made the players take their foot off the pedal a little bit.  That is what happened last year. This year we have had many problems. What we need to do is to concentrate on the Champions League now. When you win, you are in a state of happiness and you think that winning and competing will be that much easier from then on but in reality, the opposite is true. If you take your eye off the ball, one cannot win anything in this sport. 

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