Barcelona will enter into their UEFA Champions League clash against Panathinaikos at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night with surprising concern etched onto the players’ faces after suffering a shock defeat in La Liga over the weeknd. Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta warned his team mates that “the past doesn’t win you matches” ahead of the European tie and added that he was keen to savour the taste of winning again after a summer of success.
“When you lose, you just want to play the next game as soon as possible and win to feel good again,” Iniesta said. “That’s what we have to aim for. This is our first group match and we have to start well at home. The Champions League is very demanding and you can’t make many mistakes.”
“We feel every year we have a duty to try to win the Champions League. Last season we almost won it and, for the fans, that is something you don’t forget. This season we have the chance to win it and be able to go to Wembley, but it’s a long road and first we face Panathinaikos.”
Iniesta called on Barcelona fans to once again fill the stadium and encourage the players to a repeat of the 5-0 win that the Spanish champions enjoyed over Panathinaikos in 2005/06 when both teams were also drawn together in the group stage: “I hope the stadium is full. The more people in the stands, the better. We’re much stronger with them than without. It’s the first Champions League Matchday and Panathinaikos have great players, which means we must be at 100%.”
Iniesta also had kind words to say of former academy team mate Luis Garcia, who now plies his trade with the Greek giants: “When I was in the youth teams, what I remember about Luis GarcÃa was he scored loads of goals. He was a great player. The image I have of him as a player is brilliant, and as a person too.”
Garcia himself is looking forward to a reunion with his former team mates but insists that he will have only beating Barcelona on his mind before and during the 90 minutes: “As usual I am delighted to be back. I have lots of friends here, it’s a great stadium and I want to enjoy the atmosphere that a Champions League game brings. Everyone knows how Barcelona play, their many strengths and how hard it is to play here. We hope that staying focused for 90 minutes will be enough for victory.”
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