Cata­lans rout Celta to get big boost ahead of Cham­pi­ons League match

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA’S hopes of claw­ing back a 4-0 deficit to Paris St Ger­main in the Cham­pi­ons League may look like a lost cause to some but coach Luis En­rique says he has an “un­break­able faith” that the Span­ish side can turn the tie around.

Barcelona’s 5-0 vic­tory over Celta Vigo in La Liga on Satur­day was their fourth straight win since that em­bar­rass­ing last 16, first leg de­feat in Paris last month.

Luis En­rique told re­porters af­ter the Celta game that Barca pos­sessed the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to be­come the first side to over­turn a four-goal deficit in the Cham­pi­ons League when they host PSG in the sec­ond leg on Wed­nes­day.

“I’ve nat­u­rally been think­ing about the tie for a long time, it wasn’t nor­mal that they beat us so eas­ily but our ob­jec­tive is to show that we’re the best team and can turn it around in 90 min­utes,” he said.

“I have un­break­able faith that we can win the tie. We’re go­ing to risk ev­ery­thing, we want to cre­ate an at­mos­phere in which the fans will help us even more than they nor­mally do.”

Celta were the last team to beat Barcelona in the league but a bril­liant solo goal from Lionel Messi mid­way through the first half lifted the home side’s con­fi­dence and killed off an real hopes the vis­i­tors had of pulling off another shock.

The Ar­gen­tine rounded off the scor­ing with another classy in­di­vid­ual run and fin­ish af­ter goals from Ney­mar, Ivan Rakitic and Sa­muel Umtiti had stretched Barca’s lead.

Home fans are al­ready turn­ing their at­ten­tion to the PSG game, un­furl­ing ban­ners read­ing: “We’ll turn it around” and chant­ing, “Yes we can.”

“The fans re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate this team whether they win or lose, we’ve never shown a lack of at­ti­tude and that means the fans be­lieve the come­back is pos­si­ble,” added Luis En­rique.

“I think we’ve hit top form ahead of a re­ally dif­fi­cult tie but we’re go­ing to have a chance to go through.

“It looks like a lost cause but if we do things well who knows what could hap­pen? We’re go­ing to keep try­ing un­til the last minute.”

Barca top the La Liga stand­ings on 60 points, one ahead of Real Madrid, while third-placed Sevilla, on 55, visit Alaves to­day.

Real boss Zine­dine Zi­dane praised his side’s re­sponse to a re­cent slump in form af­ter de­feat to Va­len­cia and a thrilling 3-3 draw with Las Pal­mas in two of their pre­vi­ous three out­ings.

“I am happy with our re­ac­tion,” said Zi­dane. “In the course of a sea­son there are mo­ments when you have to suf­fer and it is nor­mal that you can’t al­ways play well.

“We started very strongly and at a high tempo, which is very im­por­tant away from home.”

De­spite the ab­sence of Ron­aldo and Bale through in­jury and sus­pen­sion re­spec­tively, Zi­dane rested a host of other first-team reg­u­lars ahead of to­mor­row’s Cham­pi­ons League last 16 re­turn leg away to Napoli.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (left) cel­e­brates with Ney­mar af­ter scor­ing against Celta Vigo at Nou Camp on Satur­day.

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