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Gerard Piqué was speaking from the pressroom at the Ciutat Esportiva / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Gerard Piqué is looking forward to getting the Champions League campaign started after such a strong start to the league. "We’re playing the kind of football we like and feeling comfortable” he told a press conference on the eve of the game with APOEL. The Cypriots may not be one of the biggest names in continental football, but "the first Champions League match is always important for getting off on the right foot and going on to top the group, which our prime target … They may not be all that well known and I’m sure they’ll want to keep things tight at the back, so it will be hard to get the first goal.”

Piqué is now into his seventh season in the Barça first team, yet he still believes that "I still have a lot to improve. Playing with such a top class team makes you better. I’ve improved a lot of things since I got here but there are so many other aspects. I’m constantly getting better.” He admitted that he’s still getting some bother with his hip, and it still hurts to fall over or take a knock, but he’s having no trouble training at the same pace as his colleagues." He was not started against Athletic Bilbao, but “that was the manager’s decision and it didn’t concern me. The most important thing is for the team to win. I have never thought of myself as a starter or a substitute. Seasons are long and you just have to work as hard as you can to win the manager’s trust.”

Seasons are long and you just have to work as hard as you can to win the manager’s trust

Piqué added that "we have made improvements in defence, but we need to make sure that those improvements last all season. And that’s what we’ll try to do … Mathieu is adapting well. He knows how to bring the ball out of defence and his height is a great help to us in the air.”

Real Madrid have already dropped six points this season, but Piqué insists that "just because we have started well and they have been losing doesn’t mean this’ll be an easy league. History tells us that they’ll always be there or thereabouts in the end. They’ll be fighting all the way”.

He also reminded listeners that they should not expect Barça to win the Champions League every season, and that what has been achieved in recent seasons should be enough to show that “this is a very strong generation that we have. Thanks to them we’ve won a lot of trophies and we hope to go on to win a lot more”. Piqué also commented that last weekend’s match at the Camp Nou was a prime example of the wonderful understanding that has developed between Neymar and Messi. They are both quality players and when they click it’s amazing” he said. “We have the best players here and we need to make the most of them to resolve matches."

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"People have the right to vote"

Gerard Piqué took part in the march for independence on Catalonia’s National Day last week, and spoke out in defence of his presence. "I am Catalan and it was Catalonia’s day, the biggest festival of all. It was a remarkable day because of the number of people who were there are the wonderful festive atmosphere … I don’t understand why so many people were upset because they have no reason to question my attitude. I have been playing for Spain for 16 years. But that’s one thing, and I just think that people should have the right to vote.”

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