Andoni Zubizarreta has spoken to the media before boarding the plane to Amsterdam. The director of sport for football spoke about a number of issues concerning the team, and especially tomorrow night’s Champions League game with Ajax. “We are travelling with the intention of securing the top spot and continuing with a phase that has gone very well so far” he said. Barça already have a place guaranteed in the last sixteen of the competition, and can ensure they top the group with a win at the Amsterdam Arena. “Our aim is to win every game. We want to compete with a historic team like Ajax at a historic venue. This is a top level Champions League match and we have to be up to the occasion”.
Against Granada, Barça had to overcome such major setbacks as injuries to Messi, Valdés, Xavi and Alves, among others. Zubizarreta stressed that “this team has always faced up to challenges over the last six years … We have overcome difficulties and adverse situations with different levels of success, but we have always faced up to the challenges, we have been able to adapt to circumstances and have never made excuses”. The game against the Andalusians on Saturday was a good example of this. “It was an excellent match. We make the kind of demands from our footballers that you would expect from a club like Barça”.
Zubizarreta also spoke about how the team is coping without Messi. “He is the best player in the world, but when we don’t have him, the others have to be able to compete, because they’re also among the best. Over a season, you need all of them and they always have to respond by playing the top class football required at FC Barcelona”. He added that “Messi’s recovery is going reasonably well and he’s in good spirits”.
He also commented that Pinto “knows what it is to play for Barça and play important games and what the shirt means, he has the character to deal with it”.