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Apr 20, 2012

Xavi: Clasico could be decisive

Xavi Hernandez says Barcelona will stay true to their football philosophy as they seek to gain a potentially decisive victory over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

• Barcelona v Real Madrid preview
• ESPNsoccernet Quiniela

Madrid have seen their ten-point lead at the top of the table dwindle over recent weeks, and Barca would move to within a point of the leaders should they secure victory this weekend.

Xavi feels the outcome of the match is far from certain, but believes a victory for either side would have huge significance in the title race.

"The league depends very much on the outcome of this game," he told Gol TV. "We will try to claim the win and move to within a point of the top. We are thrilled that we've been able to reduce the gap from ten points to four.

"We have home advantage and we will try to put on a good performance to get the three points that we need."

Barca have established a reputation for dominating possession in every match they play and, while Jose Mourinho tends to tailor his approach to the match in question, Xavi says his side will simply continue with their usual strategy.

"We try not to change our philosophy," he said. "We try to be the protagonists. Madrid have taken various approaches, but we have not changed our style for any match.

"We always want the ball, to be in charge of the game, to maintain those long spells of possession that help us control the game and, from there, we try to win the match. We can't change the way we play now. We have taken this approach against all of our rivals, and against Madrid at home we will try to do this more than ever - to have more of the ball and attack more than we ever have to secure the victory."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will again be battling it out to claim the headlines and, asked if he believes Messi is the world's best, Xavi said: "Yes, and I think most people in football think the same, but obviously Cristiano is a great footballer. They are the two players most capable of making the difference on the pitch, but Messi is peerless.

"I hate to compare them, but Leo gives us everything. He creates goals, he scores goals, makes us play, has a lot of involvement in the way we play and is at the centre of almost all our attacks. The guy has it all. He can even head it well despite his height.

"Pep once said - and he is absolutely right - that he dominates every aspect of the game. He is the best - the number one."

Meanwhile, speculation continues to surround the future of Pep Guardiola, who has yet to sign an extension to his current one-year deal.

"For me, he is key and one of the most important people here, and we would like him to continue here, but it depends on him," Xavi said.

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