Saturday 22 September 2018

Pique: Barca don't need a wake-up call

Barcelona’s Gerard Pique. Photo: Getty
Barcelona’s Gerard Pique. Photo: Getty

Gerard Pique says Barcelona do not need to use Saturday's defeat to Real Madrid as a wake-up call ahead of their Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid - a match he expects to be even tougher than the Clasico.

Barca saw their record-breaking unbeaten run come to an end after going down 2-1 to 10-man Real at the Nou Camp, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting an 85th-minute winner.

It was a chastening defeat against their biggest rivals but, with a six-point lead in the Primera Division, a Copa del Rey final to look forward to and a crunch Champions League quarter-final against Atletico to play, defender Pique insists there is no need to blow the result out of proportion.

The Spain international, who headed Barca into a 56th-minute lead against Real, told a press conference: "We don't need a wake-up call because we already know how difficult and complicated it is to win every game.

"Emotionally it's a defeat like any other. We went 39 games without losing and at times it happens. Onwards.

"We're ready to play another game on Tuesday and to do very well. Tomorrow is a unique opportunity to have a great game and leave the bar very high." Treble-chasing Barcelona go into tonight's quarter-final first leg at the Nou Camp having won six successive matches against Atletico.

However, Atletico will have fond memories of their last European clash with Barca, having knocked their Spanish rivals out at the same stage of the competition two years ago.

That is the only time in the last eight years that Barca have failed to reach the semi-finals, and Pique knows just how tough a nut Diego Simeone's side are to crack.

He said: "We're not scared, but they are having a great season. It's going to be more difficult than Saturday.

"They are the second best team in Spain, according to the league standings. But in the end it depends on us, that we have the ball, the support of the fans...If everything comes together, we're unstoppable."

Barca coach Luis Enrique echoed those thoughts, saying: "Atletico Madrid are a top-level team, that's why they are where they are competing with Barca and Madrid despite not having the financial resources.

"They are going to make life difficult for us regardless of Saturday's result."

Holders Barca will be without injured defenders Jeremy Mathieu, Aleix Vidal and Adriano for the match, which could see Lionel Messi reach 500 career goals. The Argentina ace is currently on 499 for club and country.

Atletico will be determined to ensure that does not happen tonight and they have been boosted by the return to fitness of key centre-back Diego Godin.

Godin has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury but was given the all-clear to return on Monday.

"I've worked hard to recover as soon as I could," the defender told a pre-match press conference. "Now I'm 100 per cent fit.

"We know how important tomorrow's game is. We will not be playing for a draw."

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