Tito Vilanova: “It’s the game of the year for them”

Tito Vilanova during today's training session at the Ciutat Esportiva / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The FC Barcelona boss has admitted that he would rather be playing a first division team in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey, because Córdoba will be trying especially hard to spring a surprise

Vilanova said he left Iniesta out “because I’d prefer him to be fresh against Atlético considering that Cesc is injured”

Tito Vilanova is wary of the dangers of his second division opponent, Córdoba, in the last sixteen of the Copa del Rey. “It’s a game people assume we’ll win, but I’d have preferred to play a first division team,” he said. “It’s the game of the year for them, like the Champions League final would be for us … Córdoba are excited about this because it’s 40 years since they last played in the first division … This game will be very difficult. We won’t be able to finish the job there, but we will have to get a good result”.

No need for motivation

The only first team players he has left at home are Valdés, Adriano and Iniesta, showing that he has the utmost respect for his second division opposition. “Our players love to play football. They know it’s an important game and that we have to do well. We can’t go somewhere like Córdoba assuming we’ll win easily.” He pointed out that there is very little difference between a second division club and one that has just been promoted to the top flight.

Iniesta needed against Atlético

On Iniesta, Vilanova said that his midfielder is in perfect condition, but seeing as Cesc is now injured “I’d like him to be fresh against Atlético Madrid”. He explained that he’s taking the bulk of his first team “because in recent weeks some players that are used to playing games every three days have already been able to get some rest”.

Turning to David Villa, the coach said “he is a top class player who wants to play every game, but we can’t use everybody all of the time”.

Messi the same as ever

On his Argentinian superstar, Vilanova said “Leo Messi great virtue is that he does as a professional exactly the same things that he did as a kid, and that’s a difficult thing to do … Given who he is today and what there is yet to come, he is one of the greats in FC Barcelona history”. Next Sunday, Messi will be up against another fantastic goalscorer in Falcao, on which Vilanova commented that “Leo is always motivated, and I don’t think it will be any special motivation for him to be playing against Falcao”.

And finally, he mentioned José Manuel Pinto. “The Club already knows my opinion about his future. We have to recognise the effort he has put into adapting to this club. His footwork has improved a lot”.