Xavi and Xabi to quit internationals

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Xabi Alonso of Spain. Key midfielders Xavi and Xabi Alonso are both poised to quit the troubled Spanish national team, according to media reports. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Madrid - Key midfielders Xavi and Xabi Alonso are both poised to quit the troubled Spanish national team, according to media reports on Saturday.

Neither veteran has yet announced it publicly but they have reportedly confirmed the news to friends and family.

Their last match for Spain, if picked, will be the largely irrelevant World Cup Group B game against Australia on Monday.

The reigning champions were the first team to be eliminated after painful defeats against the Netherlands and Chile. Xavi and Xabi Alonso were crucial to Spain creating a new record by winning three consecutive major international tournaments: Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

“They will be sorely missed. Two of the key pillars of the historic side are leaving,” commented Radio Marca on Saturday.

Xavi, 34, is also set to leave Barcelona, in order to wind down his career in Qatar. He has been the elegant fulcrum of Spain's highly successful 'tiki-taka' short passing style, since making his debut for La Roja in 2000.

He has played 134 times for Spain, scoring 13 goals. He was controversially dropped by coach Vicente del Bosque for Wednesday's do-or-die clash against Chile following a dull display against the Dutch.

Xavi is the third influential veteran to quit Barcelona this summer, following goalkeeper Victor Valdes and defender Carles Puyol.

Xabi Alonso, 32, has been the defensive midfield anchorman for Spain since 2005, playing 113 matches and scoring 16 goals.

He was critical of Spain's World Cup campaign, saying on Saturday: “As a group we have been short of tension ... We had a great run, which made history and now, after this defeat, things will change. It's a human question, we've had a lot of success but staying at that level is very tough. We need to cope with this painful defeat as well as we can.”

It is also expected that veteran striker David Villa - not yet used at the World Cup - will also leave the team, after signing for Australian club Melbourne City.

On the other hand, goalkeeper Iker Casillas seems determined to continue for La Roja despite poor displays against the Netherlands and Chile.

Another veteran who reportedly wants to continue for Spain is striker Fernando Torres, despite being pushed onto the subs' bench at the World Cup by the Brazil-born Diego Costa. For his part, del Bosque said on Friday he is debating whether to continue in the job or not, saying: “If I am the problem, then I will go.”

Sapa-dpa


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