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Iniesta expects ‘perfect’ Xavi send-off

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INIESTA-PSG

Andres Iniesta (r) in action against PSG in their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

BARCELONA, June 2- Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has played down concerns he could miss Saturday’s Champions League final with a calf problem picked up in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao.

Iniesta was replaced by Xavi Hernandez early in the second-half as Barca sealed a league and Cup double with a 3-1 victory over the Basques.

“I had a few pains and nothing more,” Iniesta said on Tuesday.

“It hasn’t passed through my head that I won’t be there on Saturday. It will all be fine and I want to be able to be there and help the team win the Champions League to end this special season.”

Both sides have the chance to become just the seventh team to win the treble of league, Cup and Champions League in Berlin with Juventus having backed up a fourth consecutive league title with the Coppa Italia last week.

However it is Barca who are the favourites thanks to a sensational run of 28 wins in 34 games since January and the unstoppable form of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have combined for a record breaking 120 goals this season.

Neymar and Suarez have added a pace and aggression at times lacking even from Pep Guardiola’s brilliant side that won 14 trophies in four years, including the club’s first treble in 2008/09, and Xavi admitted that allows this Barca side to be more flexible.

“I’ve seen Barca in the same way, we’ve tried to dominate the game and have the ball,” said the 35-year-old, who will be playing his final game for Barca before joining Qatari side Al Sadd at the end of the season.

“Evidently the three up front condition things a lot. They are very skillful in one against one situations, they create chances for themselves.

“Therefore, we haven’t needed to have so much control because the three up front can create their own attacks.

“We also have players that can control the game like Andres, (Ivan) Rakitic, (Sergio) Busquets, but the front three absolutely condition things for the good of the team.”

Xavi could go out by winning his fourth Champions League and a 25th trophy of a spectacular 17-year career with the Catalan giants.

“It is a very beautiful final, my last game with Barca and I want to win. It is the end of a spectacular career and I want to go out on top.”

And Iniesta added the image of Xavi’s last game ending with him lifting the Champions League trophy is added incentive for he and his teammates.

“There is no doubt that it would be perfect. At the same time it has been a spectacular season for a unique player like him to say goodbye in the best way.

“Undoubtedly the image of him lifting the Champions League trophy would be the perfect climax for him, for Barca and for all his teammates.

“These things in a game where there is no need for more motivation are always welcome and we hope that this image comes true.”

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