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01.08.2008 21:47

Xavi and Márquez: The first game is key

David Saura (Special correspondent)

Xavi and Rafa Márquez were in agreement that the first leg of the Champions League qualifier this month will be crucial and both said that they did not mind who FC Barcelona played.

The two Blaugana players, that took part in the press conference in Chicago alongside coach Pep Guardiola, stated that obtaining good result in the opening match will set up the team for return encounter.

Previous meeting

Barça were drawn to play the winners of the Wisla Krakow and Beitar Jerusalem tie and Xavi reflected on the last time that the Catalan outfit met the Polish side at the same stage of the competition in 2001-02. "It was a difficult tie and they were very physical games," he said. "I also remember that the home crowd over there was very hostile. In the end though we managed to win.

"That is why I think that this time around the away game will be the key."

"The game of the season"

entrenament010808_x20x.jpgSpeaking to Barça TV, Márquez explained that he feels that the Champions League qualifier is "the most important game of the season" and agreed with Xavi about the first leg. "It is important that we do well in the opening game," he continued. "We have to consider that the tie will hinge on the first game. We must take advantage of that and not have to worry in the second match."

Although Barcelona have been drawn to play the first game, on August 13, at Camp Nou, the club is in contact with both possible opponents to talk about playing the game in reverse order.

Avoiding injuries

While the Champions League is the most important of the forthcoming game, both Xavi and Márquez agreed that avoiding injuries was vital at this stage of the campaign, like they did this time last year. "It is something that cannot be controlled, but as professionals we have to take care to avoid them as much as we can," Xavi explained.

Márquez agreed and added: I try to take more care of myself at this stage to avoid injuries that have meant I have not been able to at my best," he said. "I now want to use the pre-season to help myself to avoid these risks."
Xavi and Márquez: The first game is key
Free-kick specialists
With both Ronaldinho and Deco leaving the club this summer, Xavi and Márquez are two of the players that new coach Pep Guardiola is likely to ask to take the free-kicks during the season. "It is good to have players that are set piece specialists," the trainer said. "Trust and confidence is needed. I am not someone who likes to demand that certain players take them I think it should be left to those that want to try."

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