Barcelona's Xavi doesn't believe that a victory in his side's showdown with arch-rival Real Madrid will eliminate Jose Mourinho's side from title contention, but acknowledged it would put Barca a step closer to regaining the league crown.
"To win would be an important step, but it would not put an end to la Liga. Whatever happens Sunday, there will still be a long way to go," Xavi said ahead of El Clasico, which if Barcelona wins would see it move 11 points ahead of Madrid.
The host will be without captain Carles Puyol, after the defender dislocated his elbow during its 2-0 win over Benfica in the UEFA Champions League, while the status of Puyol's defensive partner Gerard Pique, who is struggling with a left foot injury, is also a concern for Tito Vilanova's men.
"He is doing everything to get back in time. However he has gone 10 days without training and that's difficult. I think right now, he rates his chances of playing at 50 per cent," Xavi said.
The world and two-time European champion then spoke briefly about the club's decision to authorise a large tifo display depicting the Catalan flag to be unveiled before the match.
"Barca represent Catalonia, so I find that logical, normal and very good. But it's only a football match and nothing political," said Xavi.
El Clasico comes at a time when political tension between Catalonia and the Spanish government is high amidst quarrels over fiscal independence and political autonomy.
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