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There was but a wrinkle of irony when FC Barcelona fullback Jordi Alba sat down in front of the microphone on Monday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
After all, Alba was there to field queries from the media about Barça’s opponents in Tuesday’s Champions League opener — Celtic — and he did it while donning an emerald green FCB polo shirt.
It must have been pure coincidence.
“We’ve seen Celtic play,” Alba said, referring not just to clashes in previous seasons but also to the pre-season of this very campaign, when Barça beat the Scottish Champions, 3–1, in their International Champions Cup opener on 30 July in Dublin.
“It will be tough to create opportunities against them, but that’s what we are here for. It’s important to have a good start to the competition and get the 3 points.”
Alba also talked about the important things Barça needed to keep in mind going into the match.
“We need to have the ball,” he said. “We need to be aggressive, to recover the ball, and to try and create opportunities.”
The FC Barcelona defender was asked several questions about the so-called hangover effect following Barça’s disappointing loss to Alavés at home on Saturday night.
One reporter, however, pointed out that The Trident — aka Messi, Suárez and Neymar — had yet to start a game together this season.
Although the trio briefly reunited for the final half hour on Saturday night, Tuesday may very well be the first time all three crack Luis Enrique’s starting XI.
Alba agreed, calling them “the best strikers in the world,” but, at the same time, he stressed the importance of teamwork.
“If we play well defensively,” Alba stressed, “we’ll be more successful.”
Here are the highlights of what else Jordi Alba had to say during Monday’s press conference.
On the short rest following Saturday’s league game:
“Playing every 3 days is a benefit because you are more fit. And when you lose, like Saturday, you don’t have time to dwell on it.
On the competition for playing time this season:
“Internal competition has always been there. It’s what’s best for the team and myself because it will keep us alert. It’s a positive thing.”
“I feel good and fit. Of course nobody wants to fall out the starting line-up, but I had competition with Adriano [the last several seasons]. The coach is the one who decides.”
On which competitions are the most important:
“We are motivated for all competitions. We want to win every title, as many as we can. That’s the way we are. We want to get people excited game after game.”
On the main challenge facing the team this season:
“To win the three titles.”
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