Jonatan Giraldez and Alexia Putellas spoke to the media prior to the match against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals at the Camp Nou. The Barça coach said that the preparation for this match is like a “regular week” “It’s a Champions League tie, we’re playing a lot, but at the training level it’s normal. Nothing has changed in our preparation. We have analyzed the last game to improve the first leg,” he stressed.
“We all try in training to prepare for situations of maximum sporting demand. “We are not used to starting off losing. The fact that we are losing helps us recover mentally to try to win. We have to adapt faster to what the match demands. In Valdebebas it took us longer than necessary to recover from the initial pressure that they proposed. We were surprised how they came out because we did not expect such high and advanced pressure. In the second half we had time to get over ourselves, but we have to take this benchmark into account to dominate the match and understand where the best spaces are”, he assessed.
On the fact of playing on a stage like the Camp Nou in front of 90,000 spectators, the Barça coach said: “The positive part of all this on a mental level is that the players are prepared for some of this because they have experience of having played in big stadiums. Let’s remember the Wanda. With the national team they are also used to playing on big stages. These experiences are good to continue growing. The team is ready for this game.”
Jonatan Giráldez also assured that he will not change the game’s offensive approach despite the 1-3 first leg. “We will be offensive like any party. Yes, we have the first leg as a reference, with a favorable result, but it will not change our way of approaching the match. We are not satisfied with classifying ourselves. We want to win every game. The fact of being from Barça implies that you have to be 100% in all the games. We want the people who come to the Camp Nou to enjoy themselves and generate the maximum number of chances and goals possible. This serves as training for us to continue improving. We approach the match like every week with the intention of winning”, he stated.
And continued: “We have had games in which the rivals have put pressure on us in our game. Despite not being used to it, in training we try to prepare situations in which the players do not have the ball. You train like the other different aspects of the game. Taking into account the precedent, we have prepared this very well, training those little details that can make a difference“.
The Barça coach was asked if he noticed a special atmosphere or greater repercussion for the match at the Camp Nou. “I have been asked for many tickets. I had to say not many people. The only difference is that my grandparents came yesterday to watch the game and give us support”, he said. Regarding this, Alexia Putellas said: “Since it was announced that the game was going to be played at the Camp Nou, people came over to cheer us up and tell us they were going to the game. The feeling and the desire when that happened was that this day would come.”
“I’ve come many times as a child and tomorrow it’s our turn. But the goal is to do what we do at the Johan, even if it seems a bit cold. The goal is to be in the semifinals. I didn’t imagine myself as a child, because I only saw men. I knew that I could play football, but I did not see it as accessible to play it at these dimensions. That’s why tomorrow can open many doors”, explained Alexia, who said that this game comes at the “right time”.
“Tomorrow will be a starting point”
A line in which Giráldez stated: “Tomorrow will be a starting point. When we want to fill large stadiums, we have to fill the Johan. Not only for that, but also for performance. It is also a prize”. The position of the coach was shared by the captain of Barça. “I agree with Jonatan that this is a starting point. It’s part of the process and it comes when everyone thinks it’s the best and we players think we’re capable of playing in front of so many people.”
The Catalan midfielder continued: “The stadium changes, but the dimensions are the same. If the change conditions something, it is positive, because there will be 90,000 people who will cheer on the team. We will have the fans on our side and that reinforces us a lot”. And, when asked about the debate about calling this Barça-Real Madrid ‘Clásico’, she said: “Yes, there may be a bit of debate. Real Madrid started two years ago and it is not a Clásico, but at club level there is a lot of competition between Barça and Real Madrid and when you see the Madrid shirt it makes you feel that essence of the Clásico that has always been lived in the male. It’s a great rivalry.”
Alexia was very motivated for this meeting and wanted to highlight the importance of this event to set an example and encourage many girls: “Tomorrow may be the beginning of a new era. Tomorrow’s game will inspire many people and especially girls. They will see that the women are playing at the Camp Nou and that will reap the rewards. Many girls will dream of being those women years from now.”
And he ruled: “I think it’s a matter of moving forward and evolving as a team. Faced with tomorrow’s pressure, we’re prepared for pressure, which we like and attracts us. We live to play these kinds of games and we’ve been dreaming of this game for a long time The Johan is more collected at the public level It is a super positive situation. We are going to try to dominate and if the public is in our favor, it will be a very important asset”.