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Xavi battles back to regain key role for Barcelona

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With Barcelona struggling for consistency, the tireless Xavi has worked his way back into the team. Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

With Barcelona struggling for consistency, the tireless Xavi has worked his way back into the team. Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

Getty Images

With Barcelona struggling for consistency, the tireless Xavi has worked his way back into the team. Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

Xavi has gone from a being a bit-part figure to once again being a key player in Barcelona's midfield and coach Luis Enrique believes he is now fundamental to the team as they prepare to face APOEL in the Champions League tonight.

The veteran captain looked a dejected figure watching from the bench in the opening matches of the season and it seemed arguable whether he made the right decision to stay, having listened to offers to end his career in the USA and Qatar.

However, with Barca struggling for consistency under their new coach, the tireless Xavi has worked his way back into the team.

Lionel Messi hit a hat-trick to set a La Liga scoring record of 253 goals in a 5-1 win over Sevilla last Saturday and it was Xavi who was pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch.

Barcelona face APOEL with nine points from four games in Group F, a point behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who beat them 3-2 at the Parc des Princes.

"Xavi a is our captain, a fundamental player for us and I am delighted that it is the case. There will not be another player like Xavi with his style of play and quality," said Luis Enrique.

Fellow midfielder Ivan Rakitic said he had improved by playing alongside Xavi.

"He is the boss of all midfielders and the owner of our midfield. For all that Xavi has given football I am really happy to be in the same team as him and able to learn from him. I can enjoy watching him play and at the same time fight with him for titles."

The combative Rakitic was also full of praise for Messi, who is close to breaking the Champions League scoring record having moved level on 71 goals with Raul.

Apoel v Barcelona

Live Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent