“The team that we’ll field tomorrow will be designed to win the match,” said Tito Vilanova in this afternoon's pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League showdown with Benfica. “This Tuesday’s training session was fantastic. It’s an important match. We represent FC Barcelona and we have to play at a high level,” added the manager, who’s aware of the economic compensation the Club will receive in the event of a Barça victory tomorrow.
“There are a couple of players coming off of injury and others that are coming up from Barça B and we’d like to see them perform in the Camp Nou. I’m sure that they’ll be motivated. Besides, they are all professionals,” said the Blaugrana manager, who was quick to praise the Portuguese side: “Benfica are fighting for qualification. They are very dangerous going forward. They have important footballers that can score at any moment.”
Messi set to play
Messi was named to Barça’s squad and he could feature in the starting line-up. “He rested last week and we know that he always wants to play. It’s a Champions League match and he’s excited to play. If he’s on the pitch, it’ll make us stronger,” said Vilanova
The manager played down Messi’s assault on Müller’s record: “We have to be as natural about this as possible. Messi has the chance to beat the record, but it will be more difficult if we’re all focused on him. However, I think he’s used to the pressure.”
Satisfied with the form of the team
Vilanova is satisfied with how him men have performed so far this season, but he also urged his men to focus on improving: “We’re very pleased with the team’s current form but we can’t stay here. If we can improve certain aspects of our play, then we have to do it ... Every big team struggles to find its best form at the beginning of the season. It seems we’ve found ours and, little by little, we’re recovering our (injured) players.”
The manager also praised his players for their winning mentality: “These players are very eager to win. They are as eager now as they were five years ago, when I saw them for the first time.” Finally, when asked about the result of the Madrid derby, the manager said “any result was good for us, I still believe that the only thing we should focus on are our games.”