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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Football

Copa del Rey: Hurt Barcelona seek Cup solace
AFP
Madrid, April 16, 2014
First Published: 00:26 IST(16/4/2014)
Last Updated: 00:27 IST(16/4/2014)

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta believes his side can put their troubles on and off the field behind them by beating Real Madrid to win the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

The Catalans have endured a tough week as they were eliminated from the Champions League before the semi-final stage for the first time in seven years by Atletico Madrid before relinquishing their grip on the La Liga title with a 1-0 defeat at Granada on Saturday.

Barca have also been hit by a transfer ban by FIFA and seen the club’s reputation dragged through the mud in the controversial signing of Neymar, which eventually led to Sandro Rosell resigning as president, earlier this season.

And Iniesta is hoping to finally give the Barca fans something to cheer at the end of an unsettling campaign.

“We always try to isolate ourselves from what has happened, even though it is very difficult,” Iniesta said on Tuesday.

“If you analyse the season from day one, we have had to endure incredible things and deal with big setbacks that have been very hard to take. We would all like to live in a world of roses where everything is wonderful, but reality is not like that. When things don’t go well, you suffer, but then you get up and get on with it.

“The fans will always be there and our obligation from now on is to do our best to meet the demands in a final for 90 minutes and what remains in the league season.”

Despite their struggles Barca have often produced their best performances this season against better sides when the stakes have been raised.

Gerardo Martino’s men have won both their clashes against Real so far this season and Iniesta knows they will have to scale those heights once more to beat even a Madrid side weakened by the absence of World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

“If we want to win the Cup we need to be at our best because the opponent is very strong. The team is capable of playing well and winning. It is a title, it is something for the fans and us to cheer. Our only thought at the minute is winning the game.”

Barca have injury problems of their own as Martino could have no natural centre-backs available due to injury.

Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Carles Puyol are all serious doubts meaning Javier Mascherano could be paired with either Sergio Busquets or Alex Song.

“It is not ideal that none on the centre-backs are fully fit, but if they cannot play we will not be out of options. No player will play if they are not in the right condition.”


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