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11.12.2008 14:32

“It is important to win at all costs”

Jordi Clos

Rafa Márquez has revealed that the Barça squad is steering clear of the euphoria surrounding the club and merely concentrating on ensuring they get three points this weekend.

The Mexican also appreciates that they have a difficult task awaiting them in the second round of the Champions League.

Whatever happens in the Camp Nou pressroom, the players seem consistently intent on diluting the mood of euphoria that is buzzing around the club, especially with such high expectations for what might happen when they face Real Madrid on Saturday, with much talk of Barça slamming a historic number of goals past their struggling rivals.

Rafa Márquez picked up the baton on Thursday, and clearly understands the dangers of counting their chicks before they are hatched. “The team is very aware of how important it is to win at all costs, whether it’s 1-0 or by a bigger score, we’re just worried about getting the three points … We are focused on our job. A win would give us an important lead over Madrid and a good cushion to work with.”

Remembering last season

Memories are still fresh in the mind of their visit to the Bernabéu late last season, when the Barça players offered the newly crowned champions a guard of honour before suffering a humbling defeat. Márquez knows it’s time to make amends for that. “We have the chance, we are on good form. We want the fans to see a good game and to show them that that 4-1 loss is now behind us.” May 7 last season was a sad day for the side, and he understands why the people are hungry for revenge. “But we have to stay humble and perhaps that’s how we can get a positive result out of this … There is no need to watch that game again, but it’s something we have on our minds.”

Not fooled by Madrid

11-12-08_WEB_MARQUEZ_02.jpgRafa Márquez is not convinced by the way Real Madrid are typically playing the victim’s role ahead of the game and thinks the arrival of new manager Juande Ramos could be the shake-up the team needs. “Playing the clásico is more motivating than anything, and the change of manager will be a breath of fresh air.” Perhaps Madrid are something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but the defender also trusts that Pep Guardiola will know what their weak points are. “The boss will tell us what we have to do” he assured listeners.

Champions League opposition

But aside from the Madrid match, another matter worth giving some thought is that of the draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League on December 19. The only teams Barça could meet are Chelsea, Inter Milan, Arsenal and Lyon. Márquez knows “they are very difficult teams, but at Barça we are ready to take anybody on. I am quite sure we’ll get through the round.” But he knows which team he fears the most. “I think Chelsea are the strongest. Inter are a bit irregular, but they’d be hard too.”

“It is important to win at all costs”

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Game number 200
If picked against Real Madrid, Rafa Márquez will make his 200th official appearance in an FC Barcelona shirt. “It is important for me that it’s my 200th match and the fact it comes in a clásico motivates me even more. It would be great to be able to celebrate it with a big win” he said.

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