Cesc confident of Atleti chances in Madrid derby
Speaking in Thursday's press conference, he followed Andrés Iniesta in insisting that the Barça players are right behind coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino.
Speaking on Thursday, Cesc Fàbregas discussed the latest issues affecting Barcelona ahead of the Liga BBVA clash against Almería (Sunday, 21:00 CET).
Analysis of Anoeta defeat: “We’re aware that we didn’t have a good match. We lacked togetherness and intensity, we needed to defend better as a unit: crucial aspects that you need to get right to win a match nowadays. We’re the first to accept that. We’ve had time to reflect. We want to get back to where we want to be. An important game is also being played in Madrid [the derby between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid]. Let’s see if we can get back to top spot on Sunday.”
Effect on team of defeat: “We’re the first to realise what happened. We’ve analysed it and we have to get better. From here, I think the way is up for the team. What’s most important is being self-critical, knowing the aspects in which we’re getting it wrong and what we have to improve. We have to get back everything that we had done well in other games, and show that it [the defeat to Real Sociedad] was simply a bad game.”
Systems: “In Vigo we played the same way, we won 3-0 and there was praise, and on Saturday we lost and the reaction was a little over the top. A balance has to be found. We’ve played with the ‘little men’, in a 4-3-3 formation and in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It’s the coach who makes the decisions, who knows us best and knows what shape we’re in. At Barça we are duty-bound to be at 100% and be at our best level. We deserve the criticism. Now we have to pick ourselves up and be at our best on Sunday. And play to the level we’re capable of.”
Which system do you feel most comfortable in? “There are different opinions. Mine is that when the team is together, plays quick ball and presses with intensity to win the ball back, that’s the right way to play.”
From the win at Manchester City to the performance against La Real and question marks over the coach: “That’s football; things change from day to day. There’s no memory in football and you have to live for the present. And we know that the present on Saturday was wrong, and we’ve been criticised for it. It has been an eye-opening experience for us, we have been self-critical. We weren’t up to the level expected of us at Barça and on Sunday we have another opportunity to show people what we can do. We want to be top, we want to finish off the tie [against Manchester City] and we have the Copa del Rey final. I believe in these players because of what they’ve done in the past. This team still has plenty more to give. We have to be at 100% and we’re still in time to open our eyes and realise that we have a great squad and that together we can achieve big things this season.”
Criticism: “In football, you have to be ready to accept criticism of every nature. We’ve received a lot of criticism and a lot of praise. When we receive criticism we have to accept that and give our all for the team. We still have time. I want to put the message out that we’ve still got to time to achieve big things this season.”
Criticism for Gerardo 'Tata' Martino: “There are no doubts about Martino from the players. It’s going to sound like a cliché, but we’re all right behind him and we’re very pleased with the way he’s dealing with the club. He came to the club at a difficult time, he had a squad already in place. Whenever he needs to bring us together he has done so. He’s always self-critical, he’s natural and he wants us to give him our opinion. He’s humble and he knows if he has got it wrong or not. He’ll know better than anybody if he has got things wrong or right and he’s somebody who knows how to rectify his errors if things do go wrong. He’s still continued doing what he thinks is best for the team even if people have been against his decisions, and I think that shows a lot of character. The team and the coaching staff are behind him. When you don’t win, you have to be stronger than ever.”
Neymar case: “On a sporting level I don’t think it makes a difference. On the pitch you want to go out and win for Barça. If anyone’s going to be affected by it, it’s Neymar. He looks okay to me; he’s a happy, positive person but he has had to deal with a lot of fame and he’s dealt with that. He seems fine to us. If he’s affected by it inside, then we don’t know. I think that the club needs to be more together than ever, above all after Saturday’s defeat. When there are difficult weeks, they’re more difficult at Can Barça than anywhere. That’s why we have to stick together. If things go well on a sporting level, everything else also works well.”
Stadium: “Will I go and vote? I haven’t thought about that. I think I need more information. The club came to us to explain its intentions with the project and I think it could be an exciting one. I also respect the fact that there are people who don’t think it’s right because of the [large] investment it entails, but I think it’s exciting and I think it would help to make the club bigger. Ultimately, it’s down to the members to decide and the more that go to vote, the better.”
Rumours players asked Leo Messi for more involvement: “Totally false. If there’s any player that carries the weight of the team on his shoulders, it’s Leo Messi. If more has to be asked of him, then three times as much has to be asked of us. It’s totally false that anything has been said against Leo. He looks very good to me. Leo has been the most consistent player in world football. I have no doubt that he’ll be there whenever he’s needed. His state of mind is very good, he’s happy. He isn’t happy about Saturday, because we’re all disappointed about it; but on Sunday we have another match and that’s where we have to seek a fresh new start. We have two and a half months left and we have to be at 100%.”
Madrid derby: “At 100%, Atlético Madrid can hurt any team. I’m confident Atlético can beat Madrid. They can beat any team in the world.”