Xavi has not been at his
commanding best at Euro 2012 and said on Saturday he had lacked
the incisiveness that had been a key factor in Spain's recent
The 32-year-old playmaker is at the heart of the majority of
the world and European champions' forays forward and they will
need him to be on top form to see off Italy and retain their
Coach Vicente del Bosque unusually hauled Xavi off with
extra time looming in the semi-final against Portugal,
sacrificing him for speedy forward Pedro, but there is no
question that he will start in Sunday's final in Kiev.
At a news conference previewing the game, when he will make
his 115th appearance for his country, Xavi said he believed he
had played a significant role in Spain's run to the final.
"I would have liked to have been more decisive in the key
matches but I feel very comfortable with our way of playing, our
philosophy," he added.
"I feel good and my priority is always to help the team and
I will try to enjoy the game tomorrow."
Del Bosque leaped to Xavi's defence at a later news
conference, leaving no doubt how important the Barcelona
playmaker was in the current Spanish side.
"It is very difficult for him to play badly, he always does
things well," he said.
"He has talent, quality, he works for the team and he is one
of those who is most responsible for defining our style."
Italy's Andrea Pirlo, who dictates play from central
midfield in much the same way, has been their standout performer
and Xavi said that because football had become less physical in
recent years the pair had more freedom to express themselves.
"Players with more technical ability are very lucky because
the game is brighter now and more colourful, which also benefits
players like Pirlo.
"I am very pleased that things have gone that way and that
football has become more attacking and entertaining."
Victory on Sunday will make Spain the first nation to win
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