Champions League FC Barcelona
XAVIER (XAVI) HERNÁNDEZ I CREUS, CATALAN, MIDFIELDER, 29.
Metropolitan: Are you fearful Man United will try to shut you out like Chelsea did?
Xavi: No, for me Manchester are one of the teams who play technically good football as well. They have a very similar philosophy to us. They like to play the ball and dominate the game. That is where the game will be decided; whoever has the most possession will have the best opportunity to win the Champions League.
M: Last season it was a bit cat and mouse between you [and Manchester]. Are you expecting a more open game?
X: I don’t how Ferguson is going to send his team out. He knows that we want to have the ball and lots of possession and by doing that we will try to win the game. I don’t know how they will approach the game.
When they came here last they were very defensive and at their place they gave us lots of possession. But they scored a goal and we didn’t.
M: Man to man though, are Barcelona better?
X: We have very clear philosophy and we are not going to change that. The system has served us very well. We don’t know how they will approach the game but we know very clearly what we are going to do. From the first minute we will attack using the strategy the manager has given us and go out to win the game.
M: You played the pretty stuff last time but defensive Man United won the tie, what sensation did that leave you with?
X: It was a great disappointment. It is a different kind of football that works as well. It is clear that we have the players at our disposal that allow us to play in this way. Chelsea have footballers that allow them to play in a different way. It is football as well. What matters at this level is winning. Manchester can play with both styles, as much defensively well as technically well. I think that the most beautiful philosophy of football that there is that of Barcelona. Play well and, through playing well, win.
M: Do you have extra motivation because your 'pretty stuff' didn’t win the day against Man United last time?
X: There is always revenge in football. But neither do we have in mind what happened last year. It is simply a final, and the word final always motivates. Thanks to that I think the players will give the very best of themselves in order to win the game.
M: What are your thoughts on Messi?
X: For me he is the best footballer in the world, the number one. He is different; there is not another player like him. You can’t compare him with anyone else because they will end up getting burned. He is the
best. For me, the things he is showing mean he is the best. With respect to Cristiano and all the rest of the very good footballers there are today in the panorama of football, Messi is showing everybody he is the number one.
M: Is he more determinant than Cristiano?
X: I don’t know. But I haven’t seen anything like him [Messi], on a pitch or in training. To have him with us is fantastic and, truthfully, I wouldn’t swap him for anybody.
M: You are playing a bit more advanced this season.
X: More or less. I am enjoying my football. I like to play alongside Iniesta, Messi and Henry. It is a privilege for me.
M: You have experienced winning in big finals how does that help?
X: It is a question of confidence. A final is also a question mentality. We also have the calmness of having played well this season and of winning a league and cup double. Thanks to that we have this calmness;
we do not have the anxiety of having to win the Champions League in order to have had a great season. We have had a great season but we want to make it even better. Keeping in mind that we have won big
trophies recently, mentally we are relaxed. But we want this trophy as well.
M: Have you been practising penalties?
X: For me, you don’t have to practise anything. You cannot train for the pressure of a final or a penalty shoot-out.
M: Are you a bit worried that you might be a marked man now that everyone in England knows about you?
X: Of course I like the fact that people are keeping their eyes on me in England, where they watch a lot of football. It is a privilege too that lots of eyes have been fixed on me for a few years now. My
performances playing against England and English teams have always been well received and I hope that happens in this final as well.