Xavi: Barcelona captain breaks record for most appearances in the Champions League

Spanish midfielder plays 143rd game in the competition

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The Independent Football

Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez has broken the record for the most matches played in the Champions League after he came on as a substitute against Paris Saint-Germain.

The 34-year-old has now made 143 appearances in the competition, all for Barcelona, overtaking former Real Madrid and Schalke striker Raul.

Xavi made his debut in the competition a massive 16 years ago, against Manchester United in the group stage in September 1998 - the year Sir Alex Ferguson won the treble.

He is slightly ahead of long-time Real Madrid keeper and Spanish team-mate Iker Casillas, who has 141.

Now-retired Ryan Giggs also has 141 appearances, 151 including the qualifying rounds, but there is a long gap to the player in fifth, Clarence Seedorf, who has 125 matches in the competition.

Xavi has now played in more games in Europe's top competition than anyone in history.

The Champions League was created in 1992, taking over from the European Cup, but for most of history that competition was a straight knockout, meaning less matches needed to be played to reach the final. For example when Liverpool won the European Cup in 1984, they played just nine matches - last season Real Madrid played 13 times in the competition.

Xavi is one of the most successful players in the competition's history, helping the club lift the competition in 2006, 2009 and 2011.

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