Vilanova salutes Xavi and Casillas

The 43-year-old coach has praised the two Spain internationals for their respective achievements after the pair were jointly awarded the Prince of Asturias award on Thursday
Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has heaped praise on Xavi and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Both players were awarded the Prince of Asturias award in honour of their achievements for club and country on Thursday and Vilanova was quick to highlight the example they have set to younger children.

"Awards? They deserve it," he stated.

"They've brought some peace to the Clasicos, which was needed. They're examples."

Vilanova's side are currently suffering a defensive injury crisis, on the back of Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League victory over Celtic, but the 43-year-old is hopeful that Gerard Pique will make a swift return to action.

"Pique will be back soon," he added.

"He has another problem because he couldn't walk properly, but he's doing a lot better now."

Javier Mascherano will be missing for Saturday's trip to Rayo Vallecano after his appeal against a one-match suspension was rejected, following the Argentine's red card in the 5-4 victory over Deportivo La Coruna - much to his coach's dismay.

"We already knew the committee wouldn't accept our appeal. Mascherano has even trained individually today," Vilanova revealed.

One positive will be the return of defender Dani Alves, after a three-week absence with a thigh injury, as the Catalan club look to continue their unbeaten Liga start at Vallecas.