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Mar 8, 2013

Injury-hit Xavi could face Milan

Xavi Hernandez has said he may not be at 100% for next week's Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Milan but is willing to play with an injection.

The midfielder suffered a recent tear to his left hamstring, and last Friday - 11 days before the Milan game - Barca said he would be out for between ten and 15 days.

Xavi's ability to move the ball quickly and accurately will be key to Barcelona's chances of overcoming a 2-0 first leg deficit, and he said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo that, although he could still feel the injury, he hoped it would clear up in time.

"We are playing for our season on Tuesday, and I want to be there," he told the paper. "I hope to be in perfect condition. It is a little tear and I can feel something there, but there are still some days to go."

Xavi said he was willing to risk a worse injury by playing when not fully recovered because of the importance of the game and his own vital role in the team.

"I really want to make it - it is the Champions League," he said, describing the first leg result as "very unfair". "I will do everything possible to get there, if not at 100% then at 90% or 95%.

"I have [taken these risks] before. I am not an explosive player, a winger or a full-back. I see a game in which they are defending very tightly, where we will need to move the ball a lot, where the ball will have to move more than the player."

The Catalan press reported that Xavi and team-mate Cesc Fabregas had played with injections in the 3-1 Copa del Rey defeat to Real Madrid on February 26.

He said this could happen again, but stressed: "To play with an injection is not to say anaesthetised. They give you an anti-inflammatory. Nothing more. You do not have to give it any more importance."

Xavi said the movement that would be needed to break down Milan had been missing in Barcelona's recent defeats.

"Sometimes you do not realise that you are not making the run your team-mate needs to create spaces," he explained. "Opponents close things up for us, they play on the counter-attack.

"We have been playing the same way for many years, and people have analysed us. Do we have to give more? Of course - and we will."

Fabregas, who like Xavi was substituted early in the Copa del Rey defeat and was then an unused substitute in last weekend's La Liga clasico, said he was fully fit but accepted that he may not start against Milan.

"I am feeling fitter than ever, and when I am needed I am always here," he said. "Nobody can take away my desire to achieve something big at this club. If, for the good of the team, I do not play then I will accept it."

Fabregas, who has faced criticism from some Camp Nou fans recently, claimed the Barca faithful asked more of him than of some others.

"I believe Barca fans are more demanding with me than with my team-mates," he said. "If I play one bad game, it sets me back ten good ones."

He said that while Tuesday's Milan game was in their minds, Barca needed to play well in Saturday's La Liga game at home to Deportivo La Coruna.

"We have to give 100% against Deportivo if we want to set ourselves up for Milan," he said.

"But we cannot kid ourselves - we know Milan is the most important game of season. We have to be clever and not just play with our hearts, but with our heads as well."

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