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Pique: Atletico clash tougher than Clasico

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique warned his team-mates that their Champions League quarter-final tie against Atletico Madrid will be even tougher than their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a late goal to end the Catalans’ 39-game unbeaten run on Saturday, but Pique insisted Barca remain high in confidence heading into Tuesday’s encounter at Camp Nou, stressing they do not need to use the loss in El Clasico as a wake-up call.

“Tuesday’s game is very important,” the centre-back said at the pre-match media conference.

“We are in fine shape physically and mentally. It will be important to put in a good performance against Atletico after Saturday’s defeat against Real Madrid.

“We don’t need a wake-up call. We all know how difficult it is to win. We have a tough task ahead. We want to win the treble and have to take an important step on Tuesday to get closer to reaching our goal.

“It will be even harder than the Clasico, but in the end it is up to us. We have to move the ball around rapidly. If we manage to do that, we can be unstoppable. It will be a very balanced quarter-final tie, even if we might be the favourites. The team is really looking forward to the game.

“We have had a hard time beating Atletico in the past, but we have found a way to beat them. I expect a similar game to the one at Camp Nou a few weeks ago [a 2-1 home win]. We will try to score goals, but we realise they are a dangerous team.

“We always want to win and especially so after a bad game like the Clasico. We want to get out there and get a good result. There are certain things from the Clasico that we will have to analyse, but we have forgotten about Saturday’s game. All that matters to me is winning the Champions League.”

Barcelona’s attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar was largely anonymous in the Clasico, but Pique is in little doubt they will be firing on all cylinders again against Atletico.

“Our three attackers are on another level,” he added. “Sometimes it seems like they are not in the game and all of a sudden they are there – nobody will be more confident than them.

“They will be back to their usual best on Tuesday, and then on Saturday, and the week after. We must enjoy them.

“We will try to make the most of our home advantage. If we score once, we will go for a second goal, and then for a third…”

Mon 4 Apr, 2016
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