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5 June, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Xavi hopes for ‘dream’ finish to Barca career with Champions League title  

AP

AP, SANT JOAN DESPI (SPAIN): Xavi Hernandez can put the perfect finish on his Barcelona career by winning the Champions League for a fourth time in his last game after 17 seasons.
Hernandez has won a club-record 24 titles and can make it 25 if Barcelona beats Juventus in Saturday’s final in Berlin.
“It’s better than my wildest dream,” the 35-year-old midfielder said at Barcelona’s training ground on Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter if I start the game from the bench or from the pitch. For me, it’s extraordinary to play my last game for Barca in the Champions League final.”
Xavi took his club milestone to 766 appearances in his last match at Camp Nou on Saturday, when he went on as a substitute to help secure a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.
Unless Andres Iniesta fails to recover from a tweak to his right leg, Xavi will likely begin the Champions League final from the dugout.
Iniesta was optimistic that he
would be fit.
“I felt some pain and nothing more,” said Iniesta. “The thought that I
won’t be ready on Saturday doesn’t cross my mind.”
Iniesta said the chance to send Xavi off in such fine fashion with a treble of titles, including the already won Spanish league title, provides the squad with even more motivation against Juventus.
“There is no doubt it would be perfect,” Iniesta said. “This has still been a spectacular season, but what a way for a player to say farewell. I imagine him lifting the Champions League trophy. It would be perfect for him and his teammates. We have to do all we can to make that image a reality.”
Xavi is leaving Spain for Qatar to play for club Al-Sadd on a two-year contract. But he has said he hopes to return to Barcelona one day, perhaps as a coach, following the path trod by manager Luis Enrique and predecessor Pep Guardiola.
In the meantime, Xavi said he is leaving Barcelona in the good hands of Iniesta and star forward Lionel Messi.
“I am leaving, but this generation continues,” he said. “Great players are still here. I am convinced that next year there will be more titles. This Barca will still compete and keep making history with these players.”
Meanwhile, Barca boss Luis Enrique followed in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola, and now he can match his predecessor’s place in club history by winning the Champions League title to complete a treble.
“Beyond the Champions League, there is the treble,” Luis Enrique said on Thursday at Barcelona’s training ground. “We are all very excited for the opportunity to win the treble for a second time, and that speaks of the magnitude of the challenge.”
Barcelona is vying for its fifth European Cup and fourth in 10 seasons with this talented squad built around star forward Lionel Messi.
“The goal is more than alluring,” Luis Enrique said. “And that’s what it means for me. I am thrilled to have the chance to win it.”
Few would have imagined Luis Enrique would get such a chance just six months ago.
After a good start to the season, Luis Enrique weathered an up-and-down stretch for Barcelona that culminated in speculation that an argument with Messi during training could have led to the manager’s downfall following a loss in January.
But since that 1-0 slip at Real Sociedad, Luis Enrique guided the team to an outstanding record of 31 wins to go with one defeat and two draws as the team overtook Real Madrid to win the Spanish league before adding the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao last weekend.
In the Champions League, Barcelona eliminated Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich- the then defending English, French and German champions.
Still, Luis Enrique denied that he had changed his style or tactics over the course of the season.
“To be honest, I don’t live the world of extremes. I am the same since the start of the season,” he said. “The rest doesn’t matter to me. I am only interested in doing and enjoying my job.
“Is this the most important match of my career? I don’t know. I haven’t stopped to ponder it. I follow the same routine. We have had a very good Champions League. This is a final with that added psychological charge, but I’m sure we will play a great game and cause them problems.”
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who will be leaving the club after 17 seasons following the final, praised Luis Enrique.
“He has demonstrated what he can do and we have won titles and trained well with him,” Xavi said. “He has been a very good leader and that is not easy, especially in the first season. He has gotten through it successfully. I hope (it) continues.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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