Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Xavi says Barcelona coach Guardiola can help Spain stop Ronaldo

Barcelona midfielder Xavi claims club coach Pep Guardiola's advice will prove useful as Spain look to stifle Cristiano Ronaldo in tomorrow's World Cup last-16 match against Portugal.

Barca snuffed out the threat posed by Ronaldo in two games against Real Madrid last season, with Guardiola's men running out 1-0 winners at the Nou Camp and beating their fierce rivals 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And Xavi says his coach's instructions worked to a tee.

"I remember perfectly (what he told us)," the midfielder told Marca.

"He told us to be careful with the balls played to him (Ronaldo) from deep and which he could run onto at speed.

"He told us to only allow him to receive short passes to feet and we had to mark him with help from team-mates, and cover each other, but never let passes be played to him from deep. That kills you.

"We marked him pretty well in both games."

Xavi believes Portugal will sit back and look to hit Spain on the break with the pace of Ronaldo in tomorrow's match.

"They will get men back, they will allow us to dominate and they will look for the speed of Cristiano, of Simao (Sabrosa)," he said.

"Physically they are a strong team. Not only have they not let in a goal at the World Cup, but in their recent games they have only let in three - they are hard and aggressive."

Xavi says Spain have the right personnel at the back to stop Ronaldo, but has warned his team-mates that Portugal are not a one-man team.

"Between (Gerard) Pique, Puyi (Carles Puyol) and Sergio (Ramos) he shouldn't be able to break free, but we must not become obsessed with him - Portugal is not just Ronaldo," he said.

The 30 year-old, meanwhile, hopes Spain can avoid going the same way the likes of Italy, France and England, who are all out of the competition already.

"The World Cup is unfair," he said.

"Only one (team) is laughing at the end and the other 31 end up disappointed.

"Look at England - they came here as favourites, they have lost one game and now they are at home. That's why I say it's unfair."

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