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AS.com | 21/01/2013
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández has admitted it would be almost impossible to improve on this season's results and believes his team have a very good chance of winning the league, but warned that anything could happen because there are so many games left.
"We have a very competitive team," he said in an interview with FIFA.com
"Watch us train and you realise how much we want to win, even in the practice matches. The hunger is still there. We've got practically the same squad this season and the results have been just about perfect."
In the interview Xavi spoke about the fierce rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, a rivalry he believes is positive for football.
"It's always been that way. I've spent my whole life at Barcelona and it's a football war. Some people use it to sell things but it's good for football, the league and the national team. To be honest it makes you proud that we've got such big teams here."
Xavi, who has won the European Championship twice and the World Cup once with Spain, recognised that Barcelona "were just a bit below our usual standard last season and we ended up paying for it" but believes that this season "we've been turning those kinds of things our way, making every game count".
And he is hopeful that Barça can improve on their disappointing trophy haul last term - when they only won the Copa del Rey - and declared they will be trying to win the Spanish league title, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey this time around.
"The team is very competitive and we want to do well in every competition. We'd like to win the lot but we have to watch our step. The talent is there for sure, but we need luck to be on our side too."
Barcelona are currently 15 points clear of Real Madrid in the league table and 8 ahead of Atlético Madrid. Xavi said the points gap between the two sides makes him "happy and satisfied".
"It's a very long race and there are still a lot of games to go, but we've got a massive cushion and we're moving closer to the league title, no doubt about it."
Barcelona face AC Milan in the first knock out round of the Champions League in February and despite the Rossoneri's disappointing season in Serie A, Xavi still believes "they're a tough side".
"They keep it tight at the back and they've always made life very hard for us defensively. The San Siro is not an easy place to go to either because the fans are very passionate. And if you look back through history you'll see that they've won more European Cups than us. They might not be at their best right now but they always have players who can make life hard for you."
And Xavi recognised how fortunate they are to have a coach like Tito Vilanova, who works in a similar way to his predecessor Pep Guardiola.
"We've had a bit more fortune this year but we've been working more or less the same way, which is what you'd expect. Tito was Pep's assistant coach and they worked a lot together. They're different characters but the training sessions are pretty much the same, the system is the same and our desire undiminished. It's been a case of continuity, in every sense of the word."