At a press conference before the game against Viktoria Plzen, FC Barcelona Gerard Piqué said that he and his teammates would be playing to win in Prague because the team’s aim is to win the group. “The three points are super important because we have to aspire to top the group, which is important for possible match-ups in the next round,” he said. For that to happen, the club has to try and win the remainder of the three ties, which includes an away game against AC Milan. The centre-back’s season has been marred by injury and the 24-year-old defender said that he is physically and mentally prepared to “play the 90 minutes” if needed in the upcoming encounter against Plzen.
Pique was lucky with a relatively injury-free 2010-11 season. But he hasn’t been so lucky this season, having had two injury setbacks. As a result, the Spain international has not had enough playing time and has therefore been unable to find his rhythm. “It has been a tough start because I haven’t been able to help the team, I have been working at a different pace and that’s not good mentally,” said Pique. Luckily for Barça, Pique’s absence has hardly been felt thanks to Mascherano and Abidal, who have been been a rock in defence ensuring that Valdes keeps a clean sheet. “They are playing spectacularly at the moment,” said Pique. “The statistics say that and as the boss says, he’s the best centre back at the moment,” said Piqué with regards to his Argentine teammate.
On Tuesday night, apart from a victory, Barça’s Valdes and Messi will try to reach goals of their own. Valdes is 38 minutes away from beating Miguel Reina’s record for minutes without conceding a goal and if Messi nets one in Prague, he will enter the 200 club. “Messi only just made it to 100 goals and has got to 200 really quickly, which shows how he has taken on more responsibilities and is on another level,” he said. “As for the record for not conceding goals, that’s everybody’s achievement, although mainly Valdés’. He’s having an amazing time as a keeper and deserves much more recognition.”
Source: www.fcbarcelona.cat; Image credit: AP Photo/Petr David Josek