Champions League Final 2015: Barcelona look to give Xavi perfect send-off with win over Juventus

As captain, the 35-year-old veteran of 776 appearances for the club will raise the European Cup in the event of a Barça win

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta says that the team’s determination to complete the treble on Saturday with victory over Juventus in the Champions League final is rooted in a desire to give club legend Xavi Hernandez the perfect send-off.

“It will be the greatest way for him to leave the club,” said the Barcelona captain’s team-mate. “This is a game where you almost don’t need extra motivation but that is certainly one. He has been a unique player and for him to sign off with that as the final image would be perfect.”

Xavi allowed Eric Abidal to lift the trophy in 2011 after the Frenchman recovered from an operation to remove a tumour on his liver in order to play in the final. And two seasons before, Carles Puyol had captained the side as Barça beat Manchester United.

Barcelona are favourites to win the final

This time it will be the 35-year-old veteran of 776 appearances for the club raising the European Cup in the event of a Barça win, and, if he manages it, he will complete an incredible hat-trick of trophy-lifts in his final three games – two weeks ago he lifted the league trophy, and last week he collected the Copa del Rey from the king of Spain.

Xavi’s chances of starting the final will rest on his close friend Iniesta’s fitness. He did not train in Tuesday’s session but, asked about the calf strain that saw him finish Saturday’s Copa del Rey final with strapping around his right leg, he said: “It’s not entered my thinking that I will not play on Saturday.”

If Iniesta makes the starting XI, Xavi will start a record 151st European Cup game on the bench. Asked to compare the Barcelona captain with his opposite number in the Juventus midfield, Andrea Pirlo, Iniesta added: “Pirlo is a model for any player but for me Xavi is the number one.” 

In what was almost certainly his last press conference as a Barcelona player, Xavi backed coach Luis Enrique, whose future remains uncertain going into the last game of a campaign that could deliver only the second treble in Barcelona’s history.

“I hope he stays,” said Xavi. “You will have to ask him what plans he has, but the first season as a Barcelona coach is always difficult.”

Luis Enrique had some words of his own for Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini who had said of Lionel Messi’s wonder goal at the weekend: “He couldn’t score that type of goal in Italy. In Spain they attack better than us but we are better at defending.”

Luis Enrique replied: “I have absolutely no doubt that Messi could have scored that goal against any team, from any league in the world. There shouldn’t be any doubt about him being the greatest player of all time.”