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MENAFN - Kora - 09/03/2014
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(MENAFN - Kora) Barca secured three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey medals and twice won the UEFA Champions League under the stewardship of former coach Pep Guardiola

Tito Vilanova carried on that tradition by retaining the league title last season, before resigning from his post for health reasons

However, Bayern Munich have emerged as the dominant force in European football and inflicted an embarrassing 7-0 aggregate defeat on Barca in last season's Champions League semi-finals

Gerardo Martino currently holds the reins at Camp Nou, and his side have been unable to escape the clutches of Madrid rivals Real and Atletico in a three-way battle for the Liga title

They are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, leading Manchester City 2-0 after the first leg at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the return fixture on Wednesday

And midfielder Xavi believes Barca are well capable of maintaining their place among Europe's elite

Speaking to The Daily Mail, he said: "No, absolutely no (we are not in decline). I don't think so

"Barcelona can carry on winning trophies. We won't suddenly be down. This is a spectacular crop of players. Look at the ages of the players: (Csc) Fabregas, (Lionel) Messi, (Andres) Iniesta, (Dani) Alves, now Neymar, Jordi Alba and (Gerard) Pique - they are all around 26, 27, 28 29 years old. That's a great generation of footballers.

Xavi knows Barca under performed against Bayern last year and believes the team must play to their maximum to triumph against the cream of the crop

He added: "There is no question we were not at our best. We arrived at that point of the season tired. The big difference was that Bayern had a massive physical advantage on us and the result was huge

"We always have to play so much better to win these big games.

Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol recently announced his decision to depart Camp Nou at the end of the campaign, but Xavi has no intention of following suit and has eyed a future managerial role with the club

"I'd love to (manage the club), yes," he continued. "I'd like to remain in football forever. It would always have to be with Barcelona. That's where my heart and feelings are

"But that (management) is for the future. Right now, I love to play football. When you're a kid playing, you enjoy having the ball, don't you? All I ever want to do is have the ball at my feet, bossing the game.



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