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Xavi injury hits Spanish Cup hopes

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Xavi faces a race to be fit for the World Cup after tearing knee ligaments

MADRID, Spain -- Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi will be out for around six months after knee surgery that may threaten his participation in next year's World Cup finals.

Xavi tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during training on Friday and will undergo surgery on Saturday.

"It's better if we can operate as soon as possible because there is little sign of inflamation and nothing else seems to be affected," said club doctor Jordi Ardevol.

Xavi is a key member of Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona squad and a fixture in Luis Aragones's Spain side. The World Cup finals in Germany start on June 9.

The 25-year-old midfielder has been in impressive form helping Barcelona storm to the top of the Primera Liga on the back of six consecutive wins.

While Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o have stolen the headlines, Xavi's tireless work and link play has been an important part of the side's success over the last two seasons.

He joins midfielder Mark van Bommel on the sidelines, after the Dutchman damaged ankle ligaments that are expected to keep him out of action until January.

Barca's Brazilian defender Edmilson, who was near Xavi when he sustained his injury, said after training: "He turned awkwardly and shouted in pain. It reminded me of when I suffered a similar injury last year."

Barcelona lost Edmilson, Silvinho, Thiago Motta, Gabri and Henrik Larsson to serious injuries last season, but it did not prevent them from winning their first league title in six years.

The injury to Xavi, who has won 33 caps for his country, is another blow to Aragones who now has two important players out of action and serious doubts for Germany.

Captain Raul sustained a knee injury during Real Madrid's 3-0 loss to Barcelona two weeks ago and is expected to be out for at least two months.

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