On the eve of the Catalan derby at Camp Nou, Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre insisted that his team will not be going into the encounter as victims.
"The three points in play tomorrow are like gold for us," Aguirre said in Saturday's press conference. "This is a derby and so for both teams; it's like a Final -at least that is the way we are looking at it. I have been chatted to our fans during the past few days and everyone I meet - at the petrol station, the hotel or even just out on the street tell me that we should really go for it, that we should punish Barça. It will be a question of pride, dedication, identity and intensity".
The coach refused to be drawn on his tactical plans for tomorrow's game, as he continued, "I have gone to Camp Nou with the intention of playing an open game and also a defensive game and I have lost on both occasions. The circumstances surround Espanyol at this moment will be a factor in how we approach this match. We are up against the best team in the world but we have to take them on by using the weapons we have available".
Aguirre stressed that there will be no need for him to give his players extra encouragement at Camp Nou. "My players are not afraid of anything and they seem fired up and in good shape mentally after the break. It's a privilege for them to be playing against players like Messi and Puyol - I must admit that I myself would love to swap places with one of my players and be out there on the pitch myself".
In answer to a question regarding whether he had designed any specific plan to curb Leo Messi, the coach ended, "I have watched games in which Leo hasn't scored but has created spaces for his team mates - even though he hasn't scored, he has played an important role. It's very difficult to take someone like Messi out of the game; he is a very special player. What we must do is try to stop Barça from playing as a team".