x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Gerard Pique right to tell fans to don't stop believing in Barcelona

The defender's pre-match prognostication pertinent as Catalans break yet another record in overcoming 2-0 deficit to AC Milan in Uefa Champions League, writes Andy Mitten.

Gerard Pique helped Barcelona make history by overtunring a 2-0 first-leg deficit. David Ramos / Getty Images
Gerard Pique helped Barcelona make history by overtunring a 2-0 first-leg deficit. David Ramos / Getty Images

On the eve of Barcelona's biggest game of the season Gerard Pique gave a stirring, emotional speech. As a card-carrying Barca member for almost all his life, it came from the heart. He told fans to believe that the team were capable of becoming the first to salvage a two-goal first-leg away defeat without the benefit of an away goal.

"You have to have faith in this team," he said, bordering on the indignant towards those who did not share that faith.

Pique also reminded them that Barcelona were not successful for the majority of their history until Johan Cruyff arrived at the club.

He explained the improbable did happen in football.

"In our stadium Manchester United won a European Cup when they were losing in the 92nd minute," said Pique. "We will fight until the 94th minute to win and we can score four if we have to."

Barcelona did score four and, crucially, they did not concede an away goal. They were brilliant, the best they have played this season. Messi was "majestic" in the eyes of his coach; Villa, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta - some of the Catalans' (and the world's) best players, rose to the occasion as they destroyed AC Milan, demonstrating more urgency than their normal game.

Three of their four goals came within three passes of winning the ball back.

The 90,000 home fans were charged, too, as their huge "We are a team" collage had spelt out at kick off.

February, as is often the case, had been cruel to Barcelona.

Form dipped and blame was apportioned, mostly to the fact their coach, Tito Vilanova, was absent in New York receiving cancer treatment.

Cancer had also struck the left-back Eric Abidal, but, like Vilanova, he is set to return for the most important part of the season.

With a 13-point domestic lead, Barcelona will win the league back from Real Madrid, but their greatest seasons are measured by what they do in Europe.

After their performance against AC Milan on Tuesday, they proved that reports of their demise had been greatly exaggerated because when they play like that, there is not a team in the world who can live with them.

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

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