Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has hailed Bayern Munich as “one of the favourites” to win the UEFA Champions League this season.

Xavi, now plying his trade with Al-Sadd in Qatar, where the German record champions are preparing for the second half of the season, made the comments in an interview with German sport magazine SportBild.

“Bayern have improved under [Jupp] Heynckes this season,” the four-time European Cup winner said. “Everyone knows him and he knows the team and the club very well. They’re one of the favourites to win the Champions League this year.”

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One man who could prove key to Bayern’s European hopes, as he was when the Bavarians last won the trophy in 2013, is fit-again Franck Ribery, who was singled out for praise by the Spain legend.

“He’s been one of the best players in Europe over the last decade or so,” Xavi said. “He’s one of the best players in French football history. A top player!”

Watch: Bayern Munich swept all before them during Jupp Heynckes’ last stint in charge!

Xavi’s former club Barcelona are another one of the favourites to lift the big-eared trophy, with the 37-year-old particularly impressed by Borussia Mönchengladbach youth product, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who now keeps goal for the Catalan giants.

“At the moment he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” Xavi said. “He’s playing at a really high level, he’s a good man and is very professional. When I saw him on his first day at Barcelona, I was really surprised by how good his football ability was. He’s a very, very good goalkeeper … I think he’s more or less on the same level [as Manuel Neuer].”

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