Hitting top form at right time

Hitting top form at right time

Xavis passing skills will be crucial to Spains fortunes at the FIFA World Cup

Hitting top form at right time

PASS-MASTER Xavi’s passes have been the key to Barcelona’s success in the La Liga, particulary against top teams. AFP

The diminutive playmaker put in a match-winning performance against Real Madrid last week, setting up both Barcelona goals in a 2-0 victory at the Bernabeu that put the champions top and made them favourites to retain their league title.

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa told reporters: "The key to the match was that we gave Xavi five seconds and he played in two passes that were good enough for Barcelona to win."

In an interview with daily La Vanguardia, Xavi displayed his characteristic modesty to explain his form in terms of the whole team's. "As I always say, I need to link up with players, to have team-mates prepared to make the runs off their markers.

"The truth is I couldn't ask for more. I'm in the best form of my life because I have everything (I need around me).

“The titles have given us all confidence. Winning changes your life because when you win it gives you self-esteem, it makes you feel more important and valued."

Possession advantage

The runs Xavi was talking about were made by Lionel Messi and Pedro against Real, as the midfielder ran the game, making the most of his side's possession advantage to pick out his team-mates.

The 30-year-old played a one-two with Messi for the opener, delicately lifting the ball over the defence for the Argentine to chest down and score.

Pedro pulled wide of his marker and raced away onto Xavi's pass to seal the victory, and Messi missed two more chances both supplied by Xavi.

‘My speciality’

"The pass is my speciality," Xavi added. "I have always been a passer but it depends a lot on my colleagues. The pass is made good by the person who makes the run."

If it is important for Xavi to be surrounded by players who understand his style in order for him to shine, he is in good hands with Spanish national team boss Vicente del Bosque.

The 59-year-old has kept together the core of the side that won Euro 2008 under Luis Aragones, when Xavi was voted UEFA's player of the tournament, and they swept all before them in qualifying for the World Cup finals.

In South Africa Xavi will have the support of Barca regulars such as defenders Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, and midfielder Andres Iniesta, who are well-tuned to his frequency.

Xavi's team-mates have all spent at least two years playing with him: Fernando Torres, who raced on to a Xavi pass to score the winner at Euro 2008, David Villa, David Silva and Daniel Guiza.

If it is the six titles Xavi won with Barcelona in 2009 that helped to boost his confidence, he will be on an even greater high in South Africa if Pep Guardiola side successfully retain their La Liga and Champions League titles in May.