Champions League: Xavi banking on home support for semis berth

Barcelona, April 9 (IANS) Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez is optimistic about his side reaching the Champions League semifinals Wednesday night.

The Spain international was rested for Barca’s 5-0 triumph at home to Mallorca Saturday night as he looks to protect a hamstring injury that has troubled him over the past month, but will be in the starting 11 for the second leg of Barca’s quarter-final at Camp Nou against Paris Saint Germain.

Barca go into the game with a slight advantage after a 2-2 draw in Paris a week ago, but also with the feeling they should have brought a better result back home after twice having taken the lead through Lionel Messi and a penalty which he himself scored in the closing minutes, however, they were twice pegged back, with a goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovich, which should have been ruled out for offside and from a deflected shot by Blaise Matudi.

“With a cooler head now, we can take a more positive balance from the result: it is a 2-2 draw away from home, but when you look at that game it leaves you with a bad sensation, because when you go 2-1 up in almost the 90th minute and they equalize in the last move of the game, it is irritating, but it is not a bad result,” said Xavi in an interview with UEFA.

“We have 90 minutes in front of us, we are playing at home and with our fans, who will be right behind us,” he added.

The Paris game was expensive for Barca in terms of injuries as they lost Messi with a slight hamstring injury, while Javier Mascherano will be out for six weeks after damaging knee ligaments.

“That was the worst thing about the game; they are important losses,” admitted Xavi.

Messi posted a message on one of his social media websites Sunday that he was ‘OK’ and it looks as if he will be fit enough to take his place in the subs’ bench Wednesday, although it is unlikely he will be risked from the start, with Cesc Fabregas or Christian Tello, who both performed well against Mallorca.

Barca look to return to Wembley where they were crowned European Champions after defeating Manchester United in 2011 and Sampdoria in 1992.

“We all want things to work out well. Wembley has given us a lot of joy as we have won two finals there. With the final there again this year, we are more motivated than ever, but we know there is still a long way to go and it will not be easy,” said Xavi.

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