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Football | Spain

Barca capable of comeback - Xavi



Xavi has denied that Barcelona's 2-0 defeat to AC Milan on Wednesday night was their worst performance of the season.

The Spanish international was the only Barca player who even managed a shot on target at the San Siro, but he remains confident they can avoid elimination at the last-16 stage for the first time in five years.

"I don't think this has been our worst match. We were bad, but it wasn't the worst," he told reporters.

"We couldn't take advantage of the space on the wings or get something from a shot from distance. Simply we didn't dominate the details that in Europe end up costing you.

"If you are good or bad you have to show it every day. Milan were strong and we couldn't get through in attack or stop them in defence. They made it very difficult for us, particularly after the first goal.

"The result is very bad but there are 90 minutes left. Our generation hasn't had a historic comeback so we will try to do it."

The league leaders' preparation for this weekend's clash at home to Sevilla is further complicated by the fact they have the second-leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal with Real Madrid to come on Tuesday.

However, stand-in boss Jordi Roura will at least be able to call on David Villa after he missed the trip to Milan and Eric Abidal returns to the squad for the first time in a year after undergoing a liver transplant.

Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic meanwhile doesn't think the defeat to Milan will affect Barca's confidence and says that Unai Emery's men will not be distracted by their own cup semifinal against Atletico Madrid to come on Wednesday.

"I always say to go game by game. We are going to try on Saturday and then there will be plenty of time to think about Wednesday," he told the club's website.

"We are talking about the best team in the world. No team comes off a defeat well, but they have too much quality to say they will become nervous.

"We know it will be very difficult, but we want to play a good game. We want to win and will do everything to do so."

Emery is unlikely to rotate too much as three wins in four league games have brought the Andalusians back into the fight for European places, but Emir Spahic will miss out as he is suspended.

Elsewhere bottom-placed Deportivo la Coruna go in search of their first win under new boss Fernando Vazquez when they host Real Madrid on Saturday evening.

With Madrid trailing Barca by 16 points in the league Jose Mourinho is expected to rest a number of key players ahead of Tuesday's cup clash, but Depor defender Ayoze Diaz is wary that the champions always play to win.

"I hope that the cup game favours us and they come more relaxed, but we know it is not like this and Madrid play to win at every ground," he told the club's website.

"We need to be very concentrated, do things as we know how to and try to take a positive result. We know we need to be at 100% to win."

Sergio Ramos will definitely miss out for Madrid as he is suspended, but Marcelo could be handed a start as he tries to regain match fitness after three months out with a foot injury.

Atletico Madrid meanwhile take top-billing on Sunday as they try to maintain their four-point advantage over city rivals Real when they host in-form Espanyol.

Javier Aguirre's side have more points than anyone else in the league over the last six games and have still only been beaten once in 11 games since the Mexican took charge in December.

Weekend fixtures:

Friday

Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad

Saturday

Mallorca v Getafe
Real Zaragoza v Valencia
Deportivo la Coruna v Real Madrid
Barcelona v Sevilla

Sunday

Rayo Vallecano v Valladolid
Celta Vigo v Granada
Atletico Madrid v Espanyol
Real Betis v Malaga

Monday

Levante v Osasuna

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