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 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
May 20, 2014

Barca ease concerns about Xavi injury

Spain and Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has insisted that European sides have no disadvantage ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez has a back injury which will keep him out of action for about a week but is not a serious concern ahead of the World Cup, according to the Catalan club.

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Xavi was a substitute for Saturday's La Liga decider against Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou, and only played the last 15 minutes even though Barca were struggling to create chances to score the goal they needed to win the game and take the title.

There was no word of the back problem on the day of the game, but the club released a statement on Monday saying the 34 year old had an issue but it would not stop him being included Spain's final 23-man squad for the tournament when it is named by coach Vicente Del Bosque this Sunday.

"Xavi noticed a pain in his back after Saturday's game and tests this morning revealed a lumbar sprain, which will rule him out for about a week," the statement said. "The club's medical services have informed the RFEF doctors of the situation in order to coordinate the recovery once the Spanish national team get together for the World Cup preparations."

Meanwhile, Del Bosque has been speaking about the changes to Spain's all-conquering squad ahead of their attempt this summer to retain the World Cup trophy won in South Africa four years ago.

Asked by Gol TV whether the evolution of the team could be summed up in the move from Xavi to Atletico midfielder Koke, 22, the veteran coach broadly agreed.

"You could focus on Xavi and Koke as those who have been there a while and the next generation who are coming," Del Bosque said. "There are many players behind those. We are talking about the generation of Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, [Fernando] Torres. Bit by bit the two generations are uniting and we have high expectations of the young players. The phrase 'from Xavi to Koke' we could use for this generation."

Del Bosque also accepted that hosts Brazil are favourites for the tournament, but said he expected them to be tested in the group stages by Croatia.

"Brazil are the number one favourite because they have a good team, they play as a team with a good 'block', but they will not have it easy," he said. "I can see Croatia making things difficult for the Brazilians. On paper Croatia are not an easy opponent."

Spain would also not have it easy in their group games, particularly against a Netherlands side coached by incoming Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal," Del Bosque said.

"Netherlands have had a revolution since 2010, although they still have some of the most important players from back then," he said. "On top of that they have Van Gaal, who is a very good coach, and I am sure he will cause problems for us.

"Chile have already shown us when we played them that they are a very tough opponent, and a team of almost soldiers -- who defend their way of playing and will make things very difficult for us. Australia is more of an unknown. We have focused first on Holand and Chile because they come first. We will have time to see how Australia are [in their first two games]. We do not underestimate them."

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