Sat, Mar 22, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Andres Iniesta says Barcelona still believe in Clasico chances tomorrow

AFP, MADRID

Real’s Jese Rodriguez cries out in pain during a Champions League round-of-16 second-leg match against Schalke 04 at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has insisted they can turn around their poor away form and put themselves right back in the title race by beating leaders Real Madrid tomorrow.

The Catalans currently lie in third, four points adrift of Real, having won just one of their past five away games in La Liga.

However, Iniesta believes the Spanish champions showed in their two recent games against Manchester City in the Champions League that they are still capable of beating any one on their day.

“We have had bad days, like everyone, but no one can think that Madrid will beat us easily,” he told a press conference on Thursday.

“It is difficult to think that there are Barca fans that don’t believe in us. This team has won the right to believe in it, no matter what the situation is,” he added.

Barca boss Gerardo Martino will have the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from and looks set to name the side that started the home leg against City, for just the second time all season.

That means Neymar and Cesc Fabregas will return after being rested for last weekend’s 7-0 win over CA Osasuna, with Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez, who struck the winner the last time Barca met Real back in October last year, dropping to the bench.

Iniesta is urging his teammates to impose themselves on the game rather than being cowed by the atmosphere at the Bernabeu.

“We need to play a perfect game because that is what the opponent will demand of us, but we are capable of doing so,” he said.

“More than thinking about them, we need to think about ourselves. We need to be Barca, to be brave. If we are not, then it won’t go well for us. When things have gone well, it is because we have played like that,” Iniesta added.

Madrid have not been beaten in 31 games since the two sides met at the Camp Nou.

That run has allowed Carlo Ancelotti’s men to overtake Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, while also progressing to the Copa del Rey final and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Real did suffer a blow in midweek as 21-year-old forward Jese Rodriguez was ruled out for the rest of the season with cruciate ligament damage in his right knee.

That will not affect Ancelotti’s starting lineup, though, as the likes of Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will return to the side after being rested from the start in the 3-1 win over Schalke 04 on Wednesday.

The biggest winners of the weekend could be Atletico, as at least one of their title rivals are guaranteed to drop points while they travel to bottom of the table Real Betis Balompie.

Diego Simeone’s men will go top, for a few hours at least, should they win at the Benito Villamarin tomorrow before Real and Barca kick off.

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