Xavi return pleases Pep
After watching his team beat Sevilla 5-0 at home, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said that the return of Xavi from injury was the best news of all.
Lionel Messi and David Villa each scored a brace, with Dani Alves scoring the other, as Barcelona cruised to victory against a Sevilla side who played the second half with ten men following the dismissal of Abdoulay Konko on the stroke of half-time. The win saw the reigning champions stay within a point of league leaders Real Madrid after Jose Mourinho's side came from behind to beat Hercules 3-1 earlier today.
With Valencia only drawing 1-1 at home to bottom club Zaragoza in the early match, the Primera Division already seems to be turning into a two-horse race. However, Guardiola believes all of the teams in the league represent a difficult test for his side.
"All I can say is that it is hard to go to Zaragoza, to go to Sevilla, to go to Hercules, to Valencia. They are good teams that are hard to beat and you have to be at your best to beat them," he said.
"We have lost five points at home this season, so that shows how difficult it can be. We played a complete match and I am very happy with the players. But the early goal helped us," he admitted.
Messi scored the opener after four minutes and Barcelona never looked back. Sevilla have been one of the top sides in Spain in recent seasons, but the Andalusians offered little resistance tonight. Villa scored a fine second halfway through the first period and also bagged the fifth of the night right at the end to bring his recent goal drought to an end.
"We never doubted him," Guardiola said. "He has played for Sporting (Gijon), for Zaragoza, for Valencia, and scored goals for all of them, so we knew his signing was a guarantee."
The Barcelona coach was also pleased with Alves, who pounced on a poor headed back-pass from Ndri Romaric to score an opportunistic third for the Catalans.
"He scored a great goal. He has great intensity and great stamina. He has shown that since he has been here and he is a very important player for us," said the Barςa coach.
Most satisfying of all for Guardiola, however, was the return of Xavi following the midfielder's recovery from an Achilles injury. The Spain star was withdrawn after an hour, but Guardiola believes he is in perfect shape for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League match away to FC Copenhagen.
"He has come through fantastically well," the coach said.
"I spoke to him and he said he felt great. No problems at all. The physiotherapists have worked for so many hours with him and they have done a great job with him, as have the doctors.
"He is feeling good and that's great news for us - he will be ready for Tuesday."