Barcelona enter this important week of fixtures in perhaps their best form of the season.
Since their disappointing defeat to Real Sociedad in early January, the Catalan club has now won 16 of seventeen matches in all competitions, while outscoring their opponents, 58-13. They have advanced to the Copa del Rey final and are on the brink of reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after securing a 2-1 victory at Manchester City in late February.
This week, the talk around the club has focused on the crucial El Clasico showdown with Real Madrid on Sunday, and the potential for a treble winning season.
However, Barcelona players and coaches are not thinking that far down the road. They’re simply focused on the task at hand. That being, closing out their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Manchester City on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou.
Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s return leg against the champions of England, midfielder Andreas Iniesta stressed he and his teammates were ready for their next challenge, Manchester City, and were not at all preoccupied by the weekend encounter with their bitter La Liga rivals.
“At the moment the team is doing very well and that has been the case for some time now,” the veteran Barca player said during a pre-match press conference earlier today. “We are approaching the good part of the season, we are in the Copa del Rey final – and in the Champions League we know every little detail is very important.”
“You can’t predict what will happen, but we are in a position where we can succeed in our objectives.
“We don’t meet and talk about winning the treble. We know individually how we feel and what chances we have. WE know we have a good chance to fight for every title until the end but that’s no guarantee and we can’t get distracted thinking about that.
“We just have to focus on tomorrow’s match.”
When pressed further about imminent first-place showdown with Real Madrid, the midfielder once again stressed the importance of Barcelona securing progression to the next phase of the Champions League.
“It’s true we have an important match on Sunday against a direct opponent [Real Madrid] but we can’t think about what we have ahead of us further than tomorrow’s game,” Iniesta added.
“We have a good result from the first leg [to defend] but City have enough good players to turn that result around.
“We have to interpret the match in the same way we did in Manchester and City has to face a team that wants to be in the next round, that’s the important thing.”
“City are a dangerous opponent,” Iniesta concluded. “They have forwards that can decide the match at any moment and that says it all.”
“We have to be 200% focused and we can’t make the mistake of thinking that the first leg result guarantees success.”
Programming note: Barcelona vs. Manchester City will be shown LIVE on Wednesday at 3:45pm EST on FOX Sports 1 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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