Saturday, November 18, 2017

Maxwell: “Vital” games ahead for Barca

SoccerNews in La Liga, UEFA Champions League 7 Apr 2011

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Barcelona defender Maxwell believes Saturday’s home match against Almeria is vital if they are to retain the La Liga title this season.

If Barca defeat Almeria and Real Madrid lose against Athletic Bilbao, the reigning champions could go as much as 11 points clear of second place.

Almeria have conceded 16 goals over three previous meetings with Barca this season, losing 8-0 at home in the league, before suffering defeats of 5-0 and 3-0 over two legs of the Copa del Rey semi-final.

And Brazilian fullback Maxwell wants Barca to record yet another win over Almeria ahead of the showdown at second-placed Real’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 16.

“It is a vital game,” Maxwell said.

“Three points that we can’t afford to drop. We want to get to the Bernabeu with an eight-point advantage – or more. But we will play our own game.”

“I think that Almeria have good players and a new manager (Roberto Olabe) who can motivate the team. We have to be alert to their strengths and try and take three more points.”

Barca thumped Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

Maxwell believes the Ukrainian champions were undone by their insistence on taking the game to their hosts at the Camp Nou.

“They are a very strong team, very physical and run a lot,” Maxwell said.

“People might have thought that it would be easy, because they don’t recognise the names, but we knew that it would be very tough, and that everyone would give their all.”

“I think that they came out to attack so strongly that we were able to get such a comprehensive result.”

Real lead Tottenham 4-0 in their Champions League tie, and with Barca also firmly in control, a Champions League semi-final between the bitter rivals is now a distinct possibility.

Nevertheless, Maxwell insists Almeria’s visit remains the priority.

“You always look at what might be ahead, but you can’t not focus on the match at hand,” Maxwell said.

“It doesn’t benefit us to look too far ahead. We have the Almeria game and the Champions League second leg, and then we will look at the next game.”

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