Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Barca players will not be distracted when they face Napoli

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and team-mates during training

Barcelona’s players will not let the club’s off-field problems affect them when they face Napoli away in Tuesday’s Champions League round of 16 first leg tie, defender Gerard Pique said.

Barca fans waved handkerchiefs and called for club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign during Saturday’s 5-0 La Liga win over Eibar after the club was embroiled in a scandal involving a firm hired to monitor coverage of the team on social media.

“I think this is being given too much importance,” Pique told reporters. “We will concentrate on what we control, which is what happens on the pitch. The rest is noise and when the team is doing badly the noise is greater. But it’s part of sport.

“The results are the important thing and they have kept this club going over the last few years. We know that the waters will not be calm if the results are not good. This match is too important to be thinking about other things.”

Pique was also asked about Lionel Messi’s interview with Mundo Deportivo last week when he said that Barcelona were not good enough to win the Champions League.

“In other years, we have reached this stage as favourites and haven’t won,” said Pique. “Maybe we aren’t favourites this time but as we are Barcelona we always have possibilities.”

Barca’s coach Quique Setien will be making his debut in the competition, as will his opposite number Gennaro Gattuso.

“It’s an extra motivation,” said Setien, who replaced Ernesto Valverde in January and has previously coached Logrones, Las Palmas, Lugo, Betis and the Equatorial Guinea national team.

“It’s exciting for me to start this Champions League journey in a stadium like this with so much passion and history. There’s no better place to start.”

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