La Liga table toppers take on Madrid based opposition.
Preview & Team News
Barcelona assistant manager Jordi Roura has said he always believed his side could produce the sort of comeback they did against AC Milan on Tuesday to progress into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The Catalans overturned a 2-0 deficit from the first-leg with a 4-0 demolition of the Italians and despite two recent defeats to Real Madrid, Roura claimed he never doubted they would find their form at just the right time.
“If anyone has believed in the team it has been me. I am perfectly conscious of what this team can do,” he told a press conference.
“On Tuesday we took an extraordinary step forward and I have never doubted this team. But this is football and sometimes there are things that go against you that make you better.”
As a result of their efforts on Tuesday though, Barca will be without experienced duo Xavi and Carles Puyol, with the latter set to be out for some time after undergoing knee surgery.
Roura is confident in the ability of those that will come in but is determined to ensure his players don’t ease off and maintain their 13-point lead at the top of the table.
“When players of this level are not in the team you always miss them, but in the Barcelona squad all the players have to give their maximum level. Everyone that goes out on the pitch will do so with our confidence.
“After what we have experienced, we could fall into the trap of relaxing and we can’t allow that to happen. We need to face the game with the maximum intensity because it is a very important game.”
With a two-week break for internationals to come after Sunday’s fixture, the Rayo Vallecano match could also be the last with Roura as the senior coach in Tito Vilanova’s absence.
Vilanova has been in New York receiving cancer treatment since January but it is hoped he’ll be back on the sidelines by the end of March and Roura said he would be happy to hand back the reins to his superior.
“If it is like this then it would be a great joy, not because I am no longer the coach, but because Tito would be back. There would be extraordinary happiness. I have always dealt with this situation very calmly.”
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