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Xavi is fighting fit

Image: Xavi: Successful return

Barcelona playmaker Xavi has confirmed he came through his comeback at Valencia unscathed.

Barca star ready for crucial fixtures

Barcelona playmaker Xavi has confirmed he came through unscathed during his comeback in Wednesday's 1-0 win at Valencia. The midfield star, 31, had missed Saturday's 3-0 league win over Real Mallorca with a calf injury. But the Spain international played the full 90 minutes in Valencia, proving his fitness ahead of the UEFA Champions League clash with Arsenal on 8th March. "I don't have any problems, although the pitch was dry and hard," said Xavi. Wednesday night's win saw Barca set a new record of going 20 away games unbeaten and it took them a step closer to a third straight league title. The Catalan giants are now 10 points clear at the top of La Liga with 12 games left, although arch rivals Real Madrid will cut that gap back to seven points with a win at home to Malaga on Thursday night. "We are coming away with a very good victory," Xavi added. "These are points that at the end of the season can bring you a title.

Difficult period

"We still have our most difficult matches to come. Right now, everyone has things at stake. "But we are optimistic and we are happy with our form." Meanwhile, Barca have confirmed that coach Pep Guardiola was admitted to hospital overnight for treatment on acute lower back pain. The 40-year-old former Barca and Spain midfielder had to cancel a news conference on Tuesday because of the problem and looked in pain during the match at Valencia. "Pep is not feeling great and he got through the match as best he could," Guardiola's assistant, Tito Vilanova, said after the game. "He is having a bad time of it and he doesn't even know where to put himself." Barca host Real Zaragoza on Saturday before Arsenal come to the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening with the Spanish champions needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg to reach the quarter-finals.

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