Roma Director of Sport Monchi believes that Barcelona aren’t invincible.
La Magica are flying out to Spain for the first leg of their Quarter-Final tie, with most pundits and fans putting the Spanish side as the favourites to progress through.
Monchi spoke with El Periodico about the game.
“When it comes to the Quarter-Finals, there are no easy opponents, and to be clear, that’s true for Barcelona too. We can’t close our eyes to the evidence though, some teams are more favoured than others: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Bayern Munich to name four.
“Why do I say Barcelona are favourites? For the same reasons everyone else does! For the football they play, for their history, their wins, tradition, experience, the desire they have, and because they’ve been built to win the Champions League.
“It would be better if Barcelona were just Messi. If only all our worries came from him.
“Look, there’s no doubt Messi is the best. As he did the other day against Sevilla, he can turn a game in 60 seconds. For me though he’s just a very important part of Barcelona’s success.
“Barcelona has always been a huge club, which plays fantastic football with players who, with or without Messi, form an impressive bloc.
“In addition to Messi, I love the new balance Barcelona are showing on the pitch. They’ve improved a lot in the transition from defence to attack, and they’ve adapted to a new system, a traditional 4-4-2.
“On an individual level I like everyone, or almost everyone. I like the two centre-backs, Umtiti’s pace to recover and Pique’s ability on the ball. Then you’ve got Rakitic’s ability, Busquets’ balance and wisdom, Suarez’s work rate and goals”.
Do Roma still feel they can beat such a team?
“All athletes think they can overcome any challenge, that’s what they train for. Everyone knows there are no invincible teams, even Barcelona, even if they’ve only lost three of the 48 games they’ve played this season.
“When I play this game in my dreams, I see spaces, defects, opportunities for goals. I see all this driven by hope but, of course, when I wake up, I know it won’t be easy. I think at first they will be cautious. They won’t want us to score a goal or two because that would make it tough for them.
“I see Barcelona dominating, with Roma looking to put pressure on the Blaugrana and get it forward quickly when we get the ball.”