Andres Iniesta: Barcelona star focused on glory hunt for club & country

Andy Lewis 11:30 07/03/2014
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Confident: Iniesta believes Barcelona and Spain can both enjoy glorious seasons.

Tata Martino's Barcelona have suffered fierce criticism since the turn of the year – but Andres Iniesta is adamant they have what it takes to complete a historic treble.

The Blaugrana head to Valladolid this Saturday trailing rivals Real Madrid by a point at the top of the La Liga standings, while next they will look to exploit a two-goal first leg lead against Manchester City and book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Their quest for silverware also includes a Copa del Rey final against Real at the Mestallah on April 16 – but still Martino's side cannot silence the doubters.

Some stuttering league form, including the aberration of a home defeat to Valencia, has let their rivals back in the title race, while tweaks to their style of play have also engendered negativity.

But with the Catalan giants still in contention in three competitions, Iniesta insists the players have total confidence of delivering on all fronts.

"The way the season is going is good," he said at the launch of the new Nike Magista boot on Thursday. "Barcelona are in the final of the cup (Copa del Rey), going well in the league.

"The expectations are that we have maximum, top expectations in all the competitions, every season. You want that.

"The desire, the hope and the motivation of being able to get the title is 100 per cent and we’re going to fight to the end to get it."

Arguably Barcelona's best performance in some time was their comfortable 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium. Lionel Messi's penalty – the result of a professional foul by the red-carded Martin Demichelis – and Dani Alves' late second all but booked their place in the last eight Champions League.

That isn't a theory Iniesta subscribes to, however, with him feeling only a "perfect game" will be good enough against Manuel Pellegrini's men next Wednesday.

"We’ve got one part of the elimination round done, but it’s extremely difficult," he said. "I don’t want anybody to think that it’s a done deal.

"We still have 90 tough minutes to play against a very difficult rival, who have very good players.

"We don’t want to have any surprises or get scared so we have to play practically a perfect game.

"We have to put all our senses in playing in an extraordinary game with the focus on making a minimum of mistakes and hope of being able to make it in the next round."

Winning the Champions League would also provide a fairytale finale for skipper Carles Puyol, who announced this week he is to leave the Nou Camp at the end of the season.

Iniesta added: “There is no one who represents Barcelona like he does. It is sad news for what he is as a player and a person.

“We will try and be as successful as possible between now and the end of the season to ensure he leaves on a high note."

Meanwhile, Iniesta played for just over an hour during Spain's 1-0 win over Italy on Wednesday night, and the 29-year-old midfielder believes La Roja are progressing nicely ahead of this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The midfielder remains a key part of Vicente del Bosque's side having scored the winning goal in the 2010 final and he is desperate to relive the glory of four years ago.

"It is the greatest feeling of happiness, joy and pride to be able to score the goal and win a World Cup, which is something very few countries have won," he said.

"It was a beautiful thing and now we have the chance to defend it. We are going with the intention to retain it. We know we have to go step by step because a World Cup is incredibly difficult, but I think we should be confident that we will be able to do something significant at the World Cup."

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