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Xavi Hernandez's Top 5 World Cup Moments

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

Xavi Hernandez's Top 5 World Cup Moments

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    Xavi has experienced it all with Spain.
    Xavi has experienced it all with Spain.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Xavi Hernandez is reaching the end of the line as a key figure for both Spain and Barcelona.

    Whether he stays on at Camp Nou for one more season or takes a big-money deal to see out his playing days in the Middle East or America, he has had a great career.

    A truly great one.

    And performing at his third World Cup, this summer in Brazil, could be the cap of all caps to cap it off.

    Here are his top five World Cup moments so far, from 2006 and 2010.

    Perhaps he can better them this summer.

5. World Cup Debut in 2006

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    Xavi (centre, No 8) celebrates against Ukraine.
    Xavi (centre, No 8) celebrates against Ukraine.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Xavi started his first World Cup game in 2006 against Ukraine in a 4-0 rout.

    He helped create the first goal, whipping in a corner which Xabi Alonso headed home to send Spain on their way to victory.

    Xavi was also awarded the FIFA man of the match award for his performance, typically metronomic.

    Despite this being his World Cup debut, he was clearly already at home on football's grandest stage.

4. Defeat by France

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    Not a great moment but a formative one.
    Not a great moment but a formative one.David Cannon/Getty Images

    Xavi may rank this himself as one of his worst World Cup moments.

    But this was Spain's last defeat at a major tournament before their period of dominance began.

    This loss to France, despite having more of the ball and the better of the game, was the wake-up call Spain needed.

    This was Xavi and Spain's low ebb. From here on out, it all became better.

    So while far from glorious, the 3-1 last 16 loss to France can be seen as pivotal.

3. Xavi Backheel Against Portugal

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    Xavi set up the only goal of the game.
    Xavi set up the only goal of the game.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Xavi helped Spain get one over on their Iberian rivals in the 2010 World Cup last 16.

    As well as putting on a man of the match display, it was Xavi's clever backheel which helped La Roja open the scoring.

    His flick fell to David Villa, who saw his first strike saved but rammed home the second to send Spain through into the quarter-finals.

    Xavi was his usual self, running the game and keeping Spain firmly on top in the 1-0 win.

2. Assist Against Germany

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    Xavi set up Puyol's goal.
    Xavi set up Puyol's goal.Joern Pollex/Getty Images

    This was another brilliant Xavi display that saw him get the man of the match award again.

    It was another single goal victory for Spain, but it was good enough to get them to the World Cup final.

    Xavi played a key role in the victory, swinging in a corner with just 17 minutes to go, which Carles Puyol headed home to send Spain through.

    The Barcelona midfielder was instrumental as Spain controlled the game against Germany.

1. World Cup Final Triumph

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    Xavi had more and more influence as the final wore on.
    Xavi had more and more influence as the final wore on.Michael Steele/Getty Images

    From disappointment in his first campaign against France, to lifting the trophy in South Africa, Xavi has experienced the full range of World Cup emotions.

    While it was his team-mate Andres Iniesta who picked up the plaudits for scoring the winning goal in Spain's extra-time win over the Netherlands, Xavi was again in control.

    As the game wore on, his influence increased.

    Playing passes to stretch Holland's tired legs, eventually the Dutch cracked and Spain broke away, with Iniesta making the difference.

    But it was Xavi who was the heartbeat, the pulse of La Roja's triumph.

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