Julen Lopetegui has spoken to the media this morning ahead of tomorrow's clash at the Camp Nou. Although the team needed a break, the injury problems continue to mount: "We've been working with just six players and we've had the bad news about Fernando's operation and Thomas' injury, as well as some other problems. Logically, their chances of playing in Barcelona are limited. Aside from that, we're going into this match with ambition and excitement, and we're keen to face the in-form side in not just Spain, but I'd say in Europe, based on their style of play, squad, run of form and performances. They're one of the most important sides you can face".
Although it's a difficult match, the team are hopeful: "Every match in LaLiga is complicated, but this time we've got the difficulty of facing an in-form team, who aren't just winning matches comfortably, they're playing well and putting in top performances. This must motivate us to achieve an aim that really excites us, and that's playing well at the Camp Nou and beating an extraordinary rival despite the difficulties. That's the intention we're going there with, we're aware of how tough it is but we've got that excitement that must drive us". For the coach, this is a completely different match to the reverse fixture: "No two matches are the same. They've come on leaps and bounds, even in terms of names too. Right now we're talking about one of the best squads in the world. Important players have come in, some players who were already there have changed... I feel that they're one of the best squads in the world in a very positive run of form. That's not something we can change, but we have to compete against that reality, with our weapons, to beat an extraordinary side".
For Lopetegui, since Xavi's arrival Barcelona have moved forward both as a squad and individually: "We're talking about world-class players and a top squad in every sense. Also, they're improved and they've had the emergence of players who are difficult to see together. It's difficult to have so many top young players at the same time, and then have older players with lots of quality. That mix makes them a great team, but we must not focus on that, instead we'll focus on competing against it. The only way is believing in ourselves and being aware of our strengths so we can play well". As for Bono, he is a doubt for the fixture: "He's been assessed, he wasn't able to train with the team until today so we'll wait and see. We're playing at 9pm tomorrow and we'll see, because we've had other little problems with other players. We won't know who will play until tomorrow".
Due to that, he was asked about the difficulties regarding the schedule and the international break: "Really, at the end of the day you lose 12 or 13 players and you can't work with them. Unfortunately, we've suffered from the "FIFA virus". We've been punished with injuries, but that's part of the context and the difficulty. The most important thing we can do is react to it". As for possible solutions, Lopetegui stated that "it's tough. I can have my opinion, but it's carried away by the wind. I think we should listen to the reality that the player faces, they've still only got two legs, two lungs and a heart. Modern football is demanding, and then adding on an extra 15 or 20 matches compared to other years, it's difficult. It is a reflection that should be made, but it's just another opinion".