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PHOTO: arxiu FCB

Andoni Zubizarreta was speaking just before flying to Italy, and underplayed the importance of Wednesday's game at AC Milan. "We are playing to top the group and be one of the seeds, nothing else," he said. But he did admit that it was a "big game against an important team ... Barça plays to maintain its prestige every time the team goes onto the pitch, wherever it is. After this phase comes the one that usually creates the biggest impact."

Heading for the top

The former goalkeeper also spoke about how important it is for the team to have already ensured qualification with two games in hand and hoped that at the San Siro they will be able to give a good account of themselves. "If we do, then we can assure ourselves of top spot, and so much the better," he said, saying that he would never settle for a draw in a game like this.

Zubizarreta also spoke about the team's form going into the match, saying that "I don't believe in moments. We have known we were going to Milan for some time. The games are played when they are played, whatever the conditions. Now we have to play this game, and that's all there is to it".

Best wishes for Tito Vilanova

Zubizarreta also mentioned Barça's assistant manager, Tito Vilanova, who is not travelling because of a parotid gland operation. "I hope it goes well for him", he said. "But the team are able to deal with news like this ... we will be looking to do well so that Tito can be as relaxed as possible as he watches the game back home".

Asked about the renewal of Abidal's contract, Zubizarreta was giving nothing away. "We want the negotiations to be held in the right place. We are working hard to find common ground, and I'm still optimistic" was all he said.

And finally, the man who negotiated Zlatan Ibrahimovic's departure from the club said that he has no qualms about the forthcoming reencounter with the Swede. "In life you have to learn to deal with matters like this and if I see Ibrahimovic, I'll say hello," said Zubizarreta. "We'll respect him as an opponent, we'll play the game and later we'll find out whether we'll be meeting again at another stage of this competition."

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