Andrés Iniesta, en roda de premsa / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ -FCB

Andrés Iniesta made it clear that the squad is determined to “make one final effort” in this Friday’s Cup Final in order to finish the season and “round it off with a smile”. Iniesta warned though, that Athletic Club are a quality team all over the pitch.

After stressing “the intensity with which Bilbao play and the moves their coach has given them”, Iniesta reminded reporters of the games the two had played so far this season, claiming: “they were very intense” and insisted that Friday’s final will be “very close – Athletic Club will push us hard and we will have to be sharp and have our wits about us and be capable of making quick decisions on the pitch”.

Missing teammates

Iniesta is resigned to Barça playing the final without a number of important players, but insisted: “that’s the way it is – we’ll play with the players we have and try and make sure we don’t miss the players who are out”. Iniesta was also asked who he would dedicate the Cup to, if the team end up winning it and he was quick to reply: “to all of us who haven’t been able to share in what is a special day”. The midfielder also reminded the media that winning was
especially important to him, as he missed the 2009 Final with an injury: “ that motivates me more and makes it especially exciting”.

There has been considerable controversy surrounding the game already, with the President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid claiming the game should be played behind closed doors if the two sets of fans fail to respect the Spanish national anthem at the start of the game, but Iniesta insisted: “that’s nothing to do with football. Respect is the most important thing – the fans are free to behave in the way they see best, but nobody should forget that
we are going to play a game of football. There are many things we could all do differently and better, but I don’t think talking about this a day or two ahead of the game will resolve anything. We just want to see a great and entertaining game of football”.

“We want this title”

Josep Guardiola will be in charge for his last game on Friday - a Cup Final against Bilbao and a repeat of the 2009 final, though Iniesta reckons: “they are two completely opposite situations – that was our first title under him and this is his last game. We really want to win this title in a season when we have just missed out on the league and in Europe, but to do that, we’ll have to play a great game”.

Looking to the future, Iniesta gave the appointment of Tito Villanova the thumbs up: “it’s important that the players are more convinced than ever that we can go on winning things in the same way we have been. Tito Vilanova knows very well how things are here and we will continue in the same direction, convinced that it will all work out well. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out”.

“The most important thing is that Villa is 100%”

Following David Villa’s announcement that he will not be fit for the European Championships
with Spain this summer and his teammate Andres Iniesta was disappointed that he’d not
recovered from the broken leg he suffered last December in time to join the national
squad: “he’s put in a lot of work to get fit again, but the most important thing is that he gets back to 100% fitness and starts getting goals again, because he’s still got a lot to give”.