Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Barcelona narrow focus, forget Madrid

SoccerNews in La Liga, UEFA Champions League 11 Apr 2011

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Midfielder Seydou Keita insisted Barcelona are focused on Shakhtar Donetsk ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second-leg.

Pep Guardiola’s team go into Tuesday’s encounter with a 5-1 lead and with the possibility of being distracted by their upcoming La Liga clash against Real Madrid on Saturday.

A win at the Bernabeu on the weekend would extend Barcelona’s lead atop the league table to 11 points – near unassailable so late in the season.

Keita said the team had a more pressing focus than the Madrid clash.

”We’ll have time to think about the next round. It’s no problem for me to put Madrid out of my mind. Our only objective right now is to reach the semi-finals,” Keita said.

The Ukranian side finally lost at the Donbass Arena on Saturday in a surprise 1-0 defeat at the hands of Obolon.

Keita said Shakhtar would still be a threat at home, despite their league loss on the weekend.

“We don’t need any special motivation for this game. We are playing for a semi-final place in the Champions League,” Keita said.

“All we have to do is to remember how Shakhtar played in the first quarter of an hour in Barcelona. If we don’t come out strong and focussed then we could find ourselves in a similar situation as we did in Seville against (Real) Betis.”

On that occasion, in the Copa del Rey earlier this year, Barcelona won the first-leg 5-0 at home before falling two goals down inside seven minutes away.

They eventually won the tie 6-3 on aggregate.

Manager Guardiola echoed the thoughts of Keita ahead of Saturday’s game against Real Madrid as Barcelona searched for a fourth consecutive place in the Champions League semi-finals.

“Since we’ve been together we have always taken every game seriously and not looked ahead to the next one,” Guardiola said.

“Our idea against Shakhtar is to go out and win the game, scoring one or two goals. That’s the idea we always have and we will stick with it.”

Guardiola said he would not be resting any players but was yet to make a call on the fitness of some team members.

Star playmaker Lionel Messi was in that group, with a decision yet to be made on whether he would start in Tuesday’s game.

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