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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Xavi eyes 'historic comeback'

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Xavi Hernandez says that if Barcelona manage to overturn a two-goal deficit and progress past AC Milan to this season's Champions League quarter-finals it will be a "historic comeback" which the current side have yet to pull off.

• Blog: Camp Nou awaits

Barca have won everything in sight in recent years, but their signature victories - against Manchester United in Europe and Real Madrid at home - have generally come through controlling games and ties from the start.

The Catalan club have never overcome a 0-2 first leg scoreline in European competition, but they have roared back from 0-3 reverses on three occasions: against Ipswich in the 1977-78 UEFA Cup, Anderlecht in the 1978-79 Cup Winners' Cup and Gothenburg in the 1985-86 European Cup.

Wednesday evening's comprehensive defeat at the San Siro means the current generation now have the chance to add such a stirring escape to their highlights reel, Xavi told reporters after training on Thursday morning.

"The result is very bad, but this team has not yet made a historic comeback and we would love to do that," he said. "We also have the tie against Inter, and we owe our fans something from that. There are 90 minutes left and the stadium should be full to support the team and make a historic comeback."

Xavi said the journey back to Barcelona on Wednesday night had seemed very long as Barca's players and staff thought about what had gone wrong against Milan.

"For the coaches and players the return trip was very long," he said. "The first goal was unfortunate, we were not on our game. There were two defensive plays which put us up against it in the tie. We did not know how to find a way through, they were spectacular in defence."

Xavi admitted Barca would have to improve in all areas if they were to turn the tie around.

"A 2-0 loss is among the worst results you can bring back home, but we are going to go for it," he said. "We must be able to open up the field. Try and shoot from outside the area. We need to keep an eye out for counter-attacks. They have a very direct style, like Madrid. They know we will press them high up the pitch, and they play direct to counter that."

Going out of the competition, though, would not be a failure, Xavi feels.

"I do not like that word," he said. "Not at all. Not in sport. He who tries something is never a failure. A disappointment, yes. But failure is not a good word."




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