Ahead of the Champions League semi-final second legs, Barcelona’s star midfielder assesses the contenders for Europe’s greatest prize...
FC Bayern Munich
“Pep Guardiola is a Barcelona man [but] now his priority is Bayern, we must forget all the special times we had with him. Bayern are always organised and hard to beat, especially in Germany. Now they have Pep they can also play in an attractive style, and we know they have many goals in them. Their midfield is strong, and it is important that we win the battle in that area. Whoever wins the midfield battle has a big chance of progressing to the final.”
“It is not sensible to concentrate on one player, but it is impossible to not be a big admirer of Andrea Pirlo. He can do such beautiful things with a football, and he adopts the game the same way we do at Barcelona, which is to make things happen and attack. It is not easy to stop him, but he makes so much happen with his intelligent play that teams have to try. It has been a long time since Juventus won the Champions League, but they are playing very well and are a strong, balanced team. They will believe at this stage they can win the competition.”
“Again, you don’t want to talk about just one player, but Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest. They have dangerous players all over the field, though, so it would be unwise to get caught up on Ronaldo and ignore all the others capable of hurting you. We are battling with them for La Liga, and maybe we will end up battling them for Europe. Every game in La Liga is like a cup final for us, and the same is true for them. Maybe we will end up playing them in the [Champions League] final, but first we both have very difficult semi-finals to win. At this stage nothing is guaranteed – when it gets to the semi-finals, everybody has the belief they can win it.”
“This is some of the best football I’ve seen us play in all the years I’ve been at the club. The attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar is unbelievable, everybody can see that, but also we are playing well together. We play as a team; nobody is interested in personal glory. This competition means everything to Barcelona – to the players and the fans – and there is the belief that we can win the Champions League again this season. This team is ready.”
[Images: Rex, AllStar]