Barca set for Xavi boost
A look ahead to the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division, including Barcelona's trip to Levante.
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A look ahead to the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division.
Leaders Barcelona head to Levante this weekend boosted by the news that midfielder Xavi is close to renewing his contract.
The 32-year-old Spain midfielder has spent his entire career at the Nou Camp, and his calm authority in possession has made him one of the linchpins of the Catalan club's success over the last decade.
He has been key in Barca's excellent start to the new campaign under Tito Villanova; they are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after their midweek win over Spartak Moscow and sit three points clear at the top of La Liga.
And Xavi wants to see out his career at his boyhood club.
During a question and answer session through the club's official Twitter feed, Xavi said: "I hope to be here for many years. I feel great physically, I've recovered totally from those niggling injuries.
"Barca are making an effort for me to stay and I'm making an effort too. It's my greatest desire to be able to retire here.
"There have been difficult moments but I hope to continue here and renew my contract soon."
While Barca are top of the table, bitter rivals Real Madrid are eight points adrift in third place.
The defending champions travel to face seventh-placed Real Betis on Sunday, and left-back Alex Martinez is planning a hot reception for Jose Mourinho's men, as Pepe Mel's side look to bounce back from a 5-1 defeat to Sevilla.
He said: "Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world, we have to go out with attitude that was missing on Sunday.
"We are playing in our house and gives us an equal chance whoever comes here."
In the weekend's other fixtures, second-placed Atletico Madrid entertain Sevilla while fifth-placed Malaga play host to Valencia.
Athletic Bilbao will look to try and put rumours of a strained relationship between the club and striker Fernando Llorente behind them when they meet Deportivo La Coruna.
Llorente and president Josu Urrutia have reportedly been feuding since the player refused to sign a new contract during the summer.
The club also caused a stir by saying Llorente had refused to attend a media conference this week, while the striker insisted he had been doing a TV interview and could not attend.
Bottom club Espanyol play host to mid-table Getafe, with fellow strugglers Osasuna on the road at Real Sociedad.
Granada travel to Valladolid, Rayo Vallecano meet Mallorca and Real Zaragoza face Celta Vigo.