Skip menu

Main menu

Content menu

Top of page


Link to related content


11.12.2008 20:12

What the players make of the draw

Berta Brau

Now we know the teams Barça could meet in the last sixteen on the Champions League, there’s no doubt there is no easy option, although the players agree that “if we want to win the Champions League, we have play and beat the very best”.

Chelsea, Inter Milan, Olympique Lyon and Arsenal are the only four teams Barça can meet in the next round, as of the eight second placed teams, three are fellow Liga outfits who they cannot meet, and neither can they play Sporting Lisbon, who they already faced in the group stages. Speaking exclusively to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, the first team have commented on the different possibilities and particularly on the surprisingly high quality of the potential opposition. Bojan put it in a nutshell when he said “we are astonished because normally when you finish top of your group, you tend to get easier opponents, but we also know that at this stage of the tournament, any team can be difficult to play.”

No river too wide

gijon-fcb1_x7x.jpgBut there is an air of confidence in the Barça camp. Sergio Busquets reflected that when he said “if we want to win the Champions League, we have to play against the very best and beat them.” Pep Guardiola’s side know all about dealing with high-profile challenges like this, and it was Leo Messi himself who said that “it’s the Champions League and we know that at this point any side you meet will be tough, but you’ve got to get past them all. If the difficult teams are coming now, we’ve got no other option than to play them.”

Realists but confident

Although they know they are set to move up a gear on their European journey, the players are relishing a challenge they are more than ready to take up. Alexander Hleb said that despite the potential difficulty “we are good enough to beat any side that we come across”. Víctor Sánchez also expressed such confidence by saying “playing the return leg at home we shouldn’t have any problems against any team. In fact, whoever we are drawn against, I think we can get through quite easily.”

Any preferences?

As for which of the sides they would prefer to meet, the players generally coincided in that they would rather not worry about that and just wait and see what card fate deals them. For as Sylvinho said, there aren’t really any easy options, for “we have reached the stage of the Champions League where there isn’t much to choose between. They are all sides that’ll put up a battle.”

Edging towards Arsenal or Inter

fcb-betis_x13x.jpgBut some of the players were less candid with their comments. Eidur Gudjohnsen said he’d like to face Inter, because “I know Mourinho and I am sure it would be a game with a great atmosphere.” The Icelander, of course, played under the Portuguese manager in his Chelsea days. Alexander Hleb would also like to have a crack at the Serie A champions. But Touré and Bojan both fancy Arsenal, the former because it would give him the chance to play against his brother, who is at the London club, and the latter simply because of the excitement he thinks a game with the Gunners would generate. Finally, Víctor Sánchez simply said he’s rather avoid Chelsea “because they’re hard to beat and it won’t be easy to get a good result at their ground”.

Return at home

Although all four potential rivals are tough, playing the return leg at home is a major advantage, and that’s what Dani Alves, an expert on knockout matches after his years at Sevilla, felt was the most important factor. “It is always important in knockout games to play the deciding match in front of your own people” he said. “I hope we get a decent result away, and then at home we can settle the tie.” Bojan knows how important the fans can be in games like this. “I think the fans have been getting behind us more of late and that helps a lot. If we can turn our stadium into a fortress then it’s a tough place for our opponents, and that’s all the better for us.”
What the players make of the draw

To view this content you need the latest version of the Flash Player

The other side of the coin
Dani Alves also pointed out that Barça is not the only team that will have been analysing potential opponents. The Brazilian commented that if we look at things through the eyes of the other teams in the draw “I am sure that they are all extremely worried about the prospect of having to face Barcelona.” Certainly judging by reports in the international press, Barcelona is the side most teams would prefer to avoid at this stage of the competition.

Top of page

Back to top

Related content

Football News

Back to top
Top of page