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Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna: Xavi prepares to bid farewell to La Liga

Champions Barcelona will bid a fond La Liga farewell to one of the most decorated players in the club’s history, as Xavi plays his final league match against a Deportivo La Coruna side who are not yet safe from relegation.

Barca won their seventh league title in the past decade with a 1-0 victory at former champions Atletico Madrid last Sunday, talisman Lionel Messi fittingly scoring the winner with his 41st league goal of a typically prolific season.

The Camp Nou faithful will hail that triumph, but will also celebrate the career of a player who has been one of the driving forces behind Barcelona’s success.

Midfielder Xavi announced on Thursday that he will join Qatari side Al Sadd at the end of the season, bringing an end to an association with the club that started at the age of 11.

Having broken into the first team in 1998, Xavi has gone on to rack up a club-record 764 appearances for Barca, during which time he has won eight Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and the UEFA Champions League three times.

The former Spain international can add to his trophy collection as Barca still have the Copa final against Athletic Bilbao and the Champions League showpiece versus Juventus to come.

The 35-year-old admits announcing the decision has not been easy, but he is now focused on helping Barca achieve a famous treble.

“I was tense and nervous in recent days. It’s a unique situation, a rough mixture of feelings. Nostalgia, sorrow, and joy. I wanted to choose the right time for the club and now I want to focus on the two finals,” he said.

“We’re favourites in both finals and it won’t be easy. Athletic and Juve will be tough opponents.”

While one Barca career is drawing to a close, another may finally be started as Thomas Vermaelen remains in contention to make his bow after an injury-hit debut campaign since joining from Arsenal.

Deportivo will be desperate to ruin Xavi’s send-off as Victor Sanchez’s men are fourth bottom and just two points above the relegation zone heading into the final weekend.

Eibar, who are 18th, have a much more favourable match at home Cordoba, meaning Deportivo – 2-0 victors over Levante last week – will need a point to guarantee safety – their superior head-to-head record over Eibar will prove decisive if both teams finish on 35 points.

Deportivo know they are up against it, though. They have not beaten Barca since April 2008 and a hat-trick from Lionel Messi inspired the Catalans to a 4-0 victory in January.

Thu 21 May, 2015
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