As Barcelona prepare for tonight's El Clasico with Real Madrid, midfield maestro Xavi is tipping Lionel Messi to stamp his authority on tonight's Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg clash at the Bernabeu.
The 24-year-old Argentine superstar, who was recently voted the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, has been a constant tormentor to Madrid in recent seasons, and Xavi is expecting Messi to deliver the goods once again this evening.
"Leo will always make the difference," the Spanish midfielder told Barcelona's official website. "He's usually a decisive player and he's someone who grows with these games and likes playing in these games."
Messi's superlative displays against Real have drawn many plaudits from all corners of the globe, while his opposite number, Cristiano Ronaldo has often struggled to rise to the occasion in recent clashes with the Catalans.
However, Xavi is aware of the threat that Ronaldo can pose, and says it would be foolish to write off his chances of making an impact in the game, despite his poor run of form.
"Strikers do have runs of scoring and sometimes they dry up," he explained. "It's something a player gets used to - especially goal-scorers."
Another player seemingly flying under the radar at present is Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets - the midfielder has been labelled the unsung hero for Pep Guardiola's side.
"He should have been in the FifPro World XI," argued Xavi. "He's an extraordinary player and he rarely makes a mistake either in attack or defense.
"He gives us balance and is key to our system. He's more valued by his fellow professionals than by the media."
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