Aguirre: We can’t show any hesitation, doubts or fear against Barca
Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre has underlined that the key to success for his team against Barcelona on Saturday, will be to show no fear of their opponents, stay tight and focused defensively, whilst trying to impose their own game.
At his Friday press call ahead of the Catalan Derby against Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, Javier Aguirre first responded to the positive comments of Tata Martino, about his team and the recent form of Espanyol.
“The characteristics of our play mean that there’s plenty of contact in our game. We’re intense and we battle. The player who makes the difference with the ball, is Sergio García. We’ve improved a lot in that respect. In our last four games we’ve been more fluid with the ball and we’ve given a good image of ourselves.”
“Compliments coming from the manager of such a great team as Barca, is appreciated. Our work will carry on the way it has. We can’t play our game any other way than to challenge for each ball, as if it were the last, imposing our own rhythm on games at home.”
Aguirre acknowledged the excellent form of Barca in kind, admitting it will be a tough challenge to beat them, but noted that both his players and their fans, are really up for this game.
“Then there’s Barca, who are fighting for the title in La Liga, are in the Champions League and in the final of the Copa del Rey, who have been at their very best level in the last few weeks. Keeping company with them isn’t going to be easy for us, but amongst our fans, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this game and a great desire for us to win.”
The Mexican coach had further praise for Barca, whilst also insisting that his team will be battling for the points, given that they would secure permanence in La Liga with victory and then have the opportunity to look towards a European finish.
“They’ve improved since their defeat against Real Valladolid. They’re a team with fantastic players, world champions, champions of Europe, Champions League winners, scoring goals from everywhere and breaking records every week. They’re always amongst the best teams in the world, but we don’t feel inferior, ahead of playing them. We’ll be fighting with our own strengths. What better way to achieve our primary objective, then say that with seven games left, we can go for everything else.”
What the Espanyol manager sees as being the key ingredient for his team, heading into a contest with Barca, is that they show absolutely no fear of their opponents.
“This is a game where we cannot show any hesitation, doubts or fear. We have a good cushion of points, we’re in a healthy position. We can’t turn our backs on the chance of winning, so in that respect we can’t be timid.”
Aguirre also highlighted how Real Sociedad beat Barcelona a few weeks ago, noting that even when sat deep, it’s still possible to win, if they manage their game well.
“A team can be very defensive in their opponents half and very attacking in their own, with the right distribution of the ball, as Real Sociedad were against Barcelona. They were in their own half for about eighty percent of the game and they won 3-1. We’ll have to play wherever the game dictates. If we have to pressure in our opponent’s half, we’ll do that without any fear. We’ll have our chances, for sure.”
The mobility of the Barca midfield and wide players is often the undoing of many teams. Recognising that, Aguirre outlined that his team must remain tight and focused defensively.
“It’s a principal characteristic of Barcelona. We’ll have to adapt ourselves to that. There’ll be many spells of the game where we won’t have the ball. We’ll have to be patient and well organised, that will be one of the keys to the game.”
As for how he’s motivating his players ahead of the city derby, Aguirre joked that having not recorded a victory against Barca, whilst he’s been there as manager, the players owe it to their supporters, to give them the bragging rights with a derby win.
“There’s no additional need to motivate my players, but we’ve chatted about elements of our game we’ve been improving. Motivationally, we’ve had a good week and the win at Málaga helped. Against Barca, the team walks alone. I’ve not been able to beat them whilst managing this team, so the players owe it to the fans to win. It would be a very good reward for the efforts of 22 professionals in my squad.”