Iniesta demands Barca response

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has urged his shell-shocked side to help ease some of the pain of their Champions League humiliation by taking another step toward regaining the Primera Division title.

Last Updated: 26/04/13 at 13:14 Post Comment

Andres Iniesta: Focusing on regaining La Liga title for now

Andres Iniesta: Focusing on regaining La Liga title for now

Barca go into Saturday's clash at Athletic Bilbao with the wounds from their 4-0 semi-final first-leg thrashing by Bayern Munich on Tuesday still raw.

As well as all but ending their hopes of becoming European champions this season, the defeat has prompted talk of the end of an era at the Nou Camp and, combined with Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 win over Real Madrid, a power shift in the European game from Spain to Germany.

Iniesta, though, knows there is only one way for he and his beleaguered team-mates to respond.

"The only thing to do is to pick ourselves up and get back to winning the league," he said.

"Now we have to switch our focus, go to Bilbao, win and ensure that the league title is one game closer.

"Athletic will demand that we are at our best. We have the experience of playing them over the last few seasons and we know that it will be an intense and physical game."

Barcelona are 13 points clear at the top and could even secure the title on Saturday should they win and second-placed Real lose at derby rivals Atletico Madrid.

Any celebrations would surely be bitter-sweet with the memories of Munich still so fresh, but Iniesta claimed taking back the title would represent a successful season.

The Spain midfielder added: "This has been one of the toughest leagues of recent years and to come back and win it after we lost it last season is very important.

"It can't be called a bad season when you win the league. The Champions League might be more prestigious, but the league is the most important.

"It would be a mistake to say this had been a poor season, just because we didn't win the Champions League."

For all Barcelona's current travails, Athletic's problems put them in perspective.

Last season's Europa League and Copa del Rey runners-up still need points to mathematically guarantee their safety, although their eight-point cushion over the relegation zone with six games to go could be enough.

While Athletic have not won in three games in the league, Barca have won their last three, scoring nine and conceding none.

And Athletic boss Marcelo Bielsa feels it is premature to draw drastic conclusions about the strength of the Primera Division based on two games.

"Comparing two leagues from two games and two results offered such sweeping conclusions seems excessive," he was quoted as saying by Marca.

Barcelona still have problems at the back with the injured Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano both still unavailable.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

L

oved the article. i remember at school, after failing an exam, I would become obscenely secretly happy if I discover that others failed as well. Misery loves company...Now here is to hoping Chelsea joins the party and Stoke city wins the league...Cheers!

gabu
The Premier League: As Crazy As A Bag Of Snakes

C

haos reached its ultimate reckoning last weekend with Tony Hibbert looking assured at left back and Osman looking like a cultured ball playing midfielder before busting a gut to get to the back post for a Samuel Eto'o ball. Different chaos but chaos. If Kone scores the winner tonight I fear the world will end.

jelasfirsttouch
The Premier League: As Crazy As A Bag Of Snakes

A

beautiful demonstration of why stats mean diddly-squat in football.

cheshire-gooner
WhoScored's PL Team Of 2014 So Far...

Footer 365

Brandao jailed over headbutt on Motta

Brazilian striker Brandao jailed and fined 20,000 euros (£15,850) for headbutting Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Motta.

Jack Wilshere has had ankle surgery and the Arsenal man will be out for around three months

Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere for around three months after the midfielder underwent ankle surgery.

International football: England up seven places in latest FIFA rankings

England have jumped seven places to 13th place in the latest FIFA rankings following a six-match winning run.

Mail Box

Arsenal Fans Are Full Of Hope Again...

Arsenal fans have been sucked back into believing Wenger can bring the glory years back after beating Borussia Dortmund. Plus, more on Liverpool's worrying decline...

Makes Sense To Make Gerrard Liverpool Manager

That's the thoughts of one Mailboxer, who wants Jamie Carragher as defensive coach. Plus views on Arsenal, Malmo v Juventus, Alexis Sanchez & tremendous improvement...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property