For most triple Champions League, double European Championship and World Cup winners, taking on the likes of Saudi Arabia and Georgia on a rare week's break from the grind of the club season wouldn't appeal.

Yet Xavi Hernandez isn't your ordinary footballer. In just two minutes and one strike of the ball against the Saudis on Friday he showed why he remains so special, curling a free-kick so perfectly into the top corner that even the stanchion couldn't hold it.

At the age of 32 and 116 caps down the line of his international career, the Catalan retains his enthusiasm and is looking for one more victim of tiki-taka.

“I am motivated to be in the national team. This fantastic generation live very well together. Evidently this is a great World Cup and in a great location. Moreover, this generation has never played against Brazil and this is also a motivation,” he told Marca this week.

The only question is will an avoidance of injuries allow him to be there?

He was in danger of missing both Spain's last two triumphs at major tournaments as a chronic Achilles problem hampered his participation towards the end of the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons and the physical toll on his body comes as no surprise. Whilst younger teammates had an intentional break by being rotated, or even an unintentional rest through repeated injuries as in the case of Andres Iniesta, Xavi has remained too indispensable to be left out and hence, has been at beck and call for both club and country.

As a result he has played a staggering average of 66 games in the past four seasons. It is a machine-like consistency reflected in his play on the pitch. As he told Graham Hunter in his book, “Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World.”

“During a match, most of the other guys shout ‘Maquina’ or ‘Maki’ when they want me to pass them the ball.

“If I don’t get the ball for two minutes, I’m like, ‘Hey! Guys! Look for me! I’m free! There would be no point playing otherwise. I’d be happier staying at home. I must have at least 100 touches of the ball every match. If I had to go back to the dressing room with only 50 I’d be ready to kill someone.”

And look for him they do, but for both Barca and Spain an unsettling question appears around the corner – for all their overflowing production of midfield talent, what do they do when he is not there?

There is a dependency that somewhat reared its head at the Euros. Still bothered by the Achilles injury, Xavi, more than most, struggled early on to find his rhythm in Poland and Ukraine and the side’s performances dipped accordingly. However, he saved his best for last with two sumptuous, again machine-like assists for Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres in the final as the European champions defended their crown in style with a 4-0 win over Italy.

Spain, it would appear, could cope easier in his absence. The fact that Vicente del Bosque insists on the doble pivote of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets pushes Xavi slightly further up the field in a 4-2-3-1 or even 4-3-3-0 rather than the traditional Barcelona model of 4-3-3. That means any of the likes of Iniesta, David Silva, Santi Cazorla or Juan Mata would be comfortable in that role, but would the team be as at ease without its cerebral pulse receiving, turning, passing, receiving again?

Towards the end of the last World Cup campaign he told El Pais: “I don’t think I will arrive in Brazil. I will be an old man. But, if they want me in this team I will go, I assure you.”

Two years down the line it would appear the old man still knows best.

La Liga - Club News