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tribune news network
Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy ambassador Xavi Hern'e1ndez has heaped praise on Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola and reiterated his ambition to one day take over as Barcelona manager.
During an interview with www.sc.qa, Xavi also previewed the upcoming last 16 ties in the UEFA Champions League, while reminiscing about his exploits in the competition with Barcelona, where he lifted European football's most prestigious trophy four times.
Speaking about the round of 16 clash between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, Xavi said he's expecting a close game.
"I think it will be evenly matched Chelsea will make it difficult for Barca," Xavi said, who now captains Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd.
"Chelsea usually defend well and are a solid team. I think Barcelona will have most of the possession, with Chelsea happy to counterattack through Morata, Hazard, Pedro and Willian. It'll be an interesting tie."
The 2010 FIFA World Cup winner described Chelsea as a stellar opponent for the La Liga leaders. The sides have previously clashed in the Champions League on 12 occasions; with both sides claiming four wins each.
Xavi continued:"I have many beautiful memories of playing Chelsea a team which is a great rival for Barca.
"Iniesta's goal in the last minute at Stamford Bridge in 2009 was amazing. It took us to Rome for the final against Manchester United, which we won."
Xavi's coach for that particular Champions League triumph was Guardiola and the 38-year-old is full of adoration for his former manager's exploits at Manchester City, who are 16 points clear at the top of the English Premier League.
"It's too soon to say if Manchester City can become a legendary team," said Xavi."However, they're going about it the right way. Last season, Pep didn't know the league but this year he's mastering the details.
"City play amazing football and are certainly one of the best teams in Europe. As a football fan I enjoy watching them."
He continued:"They play the same way as Barcelona they like to keep possession. They press high up the pitch and don't lose the ball very often.
"They also have top players. I like Silva a lot, but also De Bruyne, G'fcndof1'f0an, San`, Sterling, Ag'fcero and Gabriel Jesus. They play football the way I like it to be played. Itf0's a team I'd love to play in."
Xavi reserved his highest praise, however, for Guardiola, who he hopes to one day emulate by taking over as manager at Barcelona.
"Pep has very clear ideas," said Xavi."He's strict and meticulous. He's also football crazy and thinks about the sport 24 hours a day. Working with Pep was special for me. He's a very demanding person who believes in his ideas."
Xavi continued:"Pep's always innovating, trying new things, and he's very good tactically. He's one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best. I'm convinced Pep will go down in history as one of the greatest."
Though he remains committed to captaining Al Sadd to success in Qatar, Xavi has one eye on his coaching career, including a return to Spain.
"To be Barcelona manager is one of my dreams but first I need to gain experience. I would certainly like to be a coach at Barcelona in the future."
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