Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has a message for the club’s supporters ahead of Saturday’s crucial Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club in Seville.
The Catalan giants head into the match after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to fierce rivals Real Madrid in La Liga that has hurt the team’s hopes of being crowned Spanish champions.
However, Ter Stegen says the title race is not over yet but admits the team’s focus must now be on picking up their first trophy of the season on Saturday against Athletic.
He wrote on Instagram, “Difficult night. However, the league is not over by this result. Many matches to go and we will fight until the end. Now we must focus on the Copa del Rey final, a big moment for us and our fans. Força Barça.”
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Barcelona Players ‘Still Believe’ in Double
Saturday’s defeat to Real Madrid saw Barcelona’s 19-match unbeaten run come to an end and the team slip to third place in the table. Ronald Koeman’s side sit a point behind Los Blancos and Atletico Madrid with eight games left to play.
Yet the dressing room still believes the team can win a league and cup double this season, according to Adria Fernandez at Diario Sport. The players think Real Madrid and Atletico will drop points in what promises to be a dramatic run-in.
Atletico have already dropped 14 points since February, and Barcelona can inflict more pain on the Rojiblancos when the two teams meet for the second time this season at the Camp Nou in May.
Real Madrid’s Clasico win has boosted the defending champions’ hopes of retaining their title but there is the small matter of the Champions League which could prove a distraction.
Zinedine Zidane’s side are in great shape to progress to the semi-finals of the competition after beating Liverpool 3-1 in the first leg of their last-eight clash and play the return on Wednesday.
Koeman Talks Title Hopes
Coach Ronald Koeman also appeared optimistic his team can still be crowned champions in the aftermath of their Clasico defeat. He spoke to reporters after the game about his team’s chances, as reported by Goal.
“Of course we’re still upbeat and optimistic because we’ve produced a serious performance. We are fighting,” he said. “We lost a match against a team who are fighting to win the league but there are nine matches and all the matches are important for the three best teams. It’s difficult for all three of us. We will come back, we will fight until the last match.”
The Copa del Rey still looks Barca’s best chance of silverware this season and victory over Athletic on Saturday would give the team a big boost ahead of their remaining eight league games.
Yet Barca will have to regroup quickly and put in a vastly improved performance against Athletic if they are to lift the trophy. The two teams have already met three times this season in all competitions. Barca won home and away in La Liga but Athletic took the victory when a trophy was up for grabs in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in January.