Pass-master Xavi hitting his stride for World Cup

By Mark Elkington

MADRID (Reuters) - Good news for Barcelona and Spain, bad news for all their rivals. Xavi says he is in the best form of his life.

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa told reporters: "The key to the match was that we gave Xavi five seconds and he played in two passes that were good enough for Barcelona to win."

In an interview with daily La Vanguardia on Monday, Xavi displayed his characteristic modesty to explain his form in terms of the whole team's.

"As I always say, I need to link up with players, to have team mates prepared to make the runs off their markers.

"The truth is I couldn't ask for more. I'm in the best form of my life because I have everything (I need around me).

The runs Xavi was talking about were made by Lionel Messi and Pedro on Saturday, as the midfielder ran the game, making the most of his side's possession advantage to pick out his team mates.

The 30-year-old played a one-two with Messi for the opener, delicately lifting the ball over the defense for the Argentine to chest down and score.

Pedro pulled wide of his marker and raced away onto Xavi's pass to seal the victory, and Messi missed two more chances both supplied by Xavi.

MY SPECIALITY

"The pass is my speciality," Xavi added. "I have always been a passer but it depends a lot on my colleagues. The pass is made good by the person who makes the run."

If it is important for Xavi to be surrounded by players who understand his style in order for him to shine, he is in good hands with Spanish national team boss Vicente del Bosque.

The 59-year-old has kept together the core of the side that won Euro 2008 under Luis Aragones, when Xavi was voted UEFA's player of the tournament, and they swept all before them in qualifying for the World Cup finals.

In South Africa Xavi will have the support of Barca regulars such as defenders Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, and midfielder Andres Iniesta, who are well-tuned to his frequency.

Xavi's team mates have all spent at least two years playing with him: Fernando Torres, who raced on to a Xavi pass to score the winner at Euro 2008, David Villa, David Silva and Daniel Guiza.

(Writing by Mark Elkington, editing by Justin Palmer)