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Xavi: We are favourites to go through

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Doha: Al Sadd captain Xavi Hernandez believes that his side have taken an important step towards the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League, following the 3-1 win away victory over Esteghlal in the first leg of the quarter-finals.

Speaking exclusively to, Xavi expressed his satisfaction with the team's performance at the Azadi Stadium, adding that Al Sadd were much better than their hosts.

"I think we did well but there's one more game," said the 38-year-old World Cup winner. "It could be just 90 minutes or it could even go to extra time. We don't know; in football, we never know.

"At least, we did a really good job in Tehran. It was a very good performance and I think we were much better than Esteghlal, especially in the second half. Also, in the first half, we could have scored at least one goal."

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What made things even better for Xavi was the atmosphere at the Azadi Stadium. "It was an amazing atmosphere, one of the best that I have seen in my career. All the spectators were incredible.

"It was a great place to play football in. I was really enjoying the experience; it's something I really liked."

The former Barcelona star is playing in his first proper AFC Champions League campaign this year as Al Sadd were knocked out at the play-off stage in 2016 and 2017.

After finishing second in Group C, Al Sadd edged past Al Ahli in the Round of 16 and then put one foot in the semi-finals with the win over Esteghlal in Tehran.

The 13-time Qatari champions have not reached the AFC Champions League semi-finals since 2011 - the year they became the last West Asian team to lift the trophy.

With the team hitting top form going into the business end of the competition, Xavi is confident that they are ready to go all the way.

"We now have a very good team. This season, we signed good players, such as Gabi, Jung (Woo-young) and a number of Qatari players as well," he said.

"I think we can compete with the rest of the teams in Asia for the AFC Champions League title."

If he does go on to win the title, Xavi will become the first player to complete the AFC Champions League - UEFA Champions League double, having won the European competition on four occasions during his time at Barcelona.

While the midfield maestro believes that Al Sadd are favourites to go through to the semi-finals, he also sounded a word of caution.

"With a good result in Tehran, I think we are the favourites but as I mentioned, we never know what will happen in football."

He’s already won all of the biggest prizes in football but can @AlsaddSC captain Xavi add the #ACL2018 πŸ† to his collection?

— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) August 6, 2018

"Esteghlal have a good team as well and they will come here to compete, for sure, because Iranian teams are really strong.

"But I think we are confident," he added. "We are improving a lot, especially in this season. We had a really good pre-season and we have big dreams when it comes to this competition.

"We did really well and put a big step forward in Tehran but it needs one more game."

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