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The Spain midfielder is backing his Argentine team-mate to rise to the occasion once more as the Catalans travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg clash with Los Blancos

Xavi believes that the influence of Lionel Messi is again likely to prove decisive when Barcelona renew their rivalry with Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday night.

Messi has proven a key performer for the Catalans in the Clasico over the past few seasons and Xavi is anticipating more magic from the diminutive Argentine in the first leg clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Leo will always make the difference,” the Spain midfielder is quoted as saying by his club’s official website.

"He's usually a decisive player and he's someone who grows with these games and likes playing in these games."

Unlike Messi, Real Madrid’s star man, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been accused of going missing in the derby clashes.

The Portuguese ace has also come in for some criticism of late for his relatively poor form in front of goal but Xavi believes criticism of the former Manchester United man is unfair.

“Strikers do have runs of scoring and sometimes they dry up,” he mused. “It's something a player gets used to - especially goal-scorers."

While the form of Messi and Ronaldo always attracts headlines, the work done by Sergio Busquets is never appreciated, according to Xavi.

“He should have been in the FifPro World XI,” he argued. “He's an extraordinary player and he rarely makes a mistake either in attack or defence.

“He gives us balance and is key to our system. He's more valued by his fellow professionals than by the media."

Barcelona, who are currently five points behind Madrid in La Liga, will host Los Blancos in the second leg at Camp Nou on Wednesday week.