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Apr 8, 2013

Xavi: Advantage Barca

Xavi Hernandez says taking two away goals into Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou makes Barcelona favourites to progress.

• Blog: No Messi, no problem

Barca twice took the lead in the April 2 first leg at the Parc des Princes, through Lionel Messi and a Xavi penalty, but PSG hit back both times via Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then Blaise Matuidi in added time.

The Catalan midfielder told UEFA's official website that even though it had been disappointing to be pegged back twice, the 2-2 draw still left his side in the stronger position.

"A 2-2 draw away from home was a positive result for us," Xavi said. "Seeing the game you are left feeling bad, because you go 2-1 ahead almost in the 90th minute, and in the very last move of the game they equalise. It was unfortunate. But it is not a bad result, it is a good result. The two away goals were the most important things from the first leg. We have 90 minutes to play at home, in front of our own fans."

Xavi admitted that the thigh injury picked up by Messi in Paris, which makes him a doubt for Wednesday's return leg, had affected his team-mates during the first game.

"It was important to score and Leo's goal gave us a lot of confidence," he said. "Then he was injured and that affected the team a bit. In the second half we were good, with possession, with chances to make it 2-0. In the end the equaliser came, and from there we continued to dominate and the penalty arrived. It seemed the tie was almost decided, but then the equaliser came in an unlucky move."

Javier Mascherano was also injured in the game, and Xavi believes his absence with a knee problem for the next month at least was a serious issue for Barcelona.

"The injuries have been a blow, as much Mascherano and Leo," he said. "We will see how Leo is [for the second leg], but it looks like Mascherano will miss a month or a month-and-a-half. They are really important losses. But we have the squad to cover them."

While Barca are favourites for the second leg, Xavi says nobody should think it will be easy against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham, Lucas Moura.

"We are optimistic, knowing we are favourites and playing at home," he said. "But PSG have a great team, quick players up front and they counter-attack very well. They are not a little team, but a really big team."

Barca's previous Champions League outing at the Camp Nou, the 4-0 win over AC Milan which came after the team had gone through a tough spell including two defeats to Real Madrid, now looked like a turning point in the Catalans' season, Xavi believes.

"It was do or die," he said. "We were unlucky to lose 2-0 in Milan. Then at home, with our fans behind us, we came back well. I believe it was a turning point, we had lost in the Copa semi-final against Madrid, which was a big blow for us. But the team recovered well, returned to being intense, getting back to our best in attack, pressing people high up the pitch, which maybe we had not been doing."

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