Barca confident of comeback
BARCELONA - Even Barcelona's most ardent fans know that their side's chances of overturning a four-goal first-leg deficit against Bayern Munich are slim, but defender Gerard Pique insists that the Catalans are the only side capable of pulling off the type of comeback needed.
Only three clubs have ever managed to recover such a deficit in European competition, with the last being Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid, who came back from losing 5-1 to Jupp Heynckes's Borussia Moenchengladbach in the UEFA Cup in 1985-86.
However, speaking to media on the eve of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final, second leg, Pique insisted that the mere presence of Lionel Messi in the Barcelona starting line-up at the Camp Nou will give the home side the belief that they can still win the tie.
"I know that it is complicated. But of course it can happen," said Pique.
"I believe that the only team capable of overturning a four-goal deficit against Bayern is Barcelona. When I take to the field and I see Leo (Messi), Xavi, Cesc (Fabregas), Andres (Iniesta), of course I am confident.
"That is what says to me that it can happen. The supporters must believe too. And to have Messi with us helps massively. If we can score as early as possible, that would give us even more confidence.
"We need to be very attack-minded and play the ball through him as often as possible."
Pique's optimism was in stark contrast with his mood in the immediate aftermath of last Tuesday's first leg, when German champions Bayern tore the Spanish league leaders apart as Pique and his defensive colleagues endured a nightmare evening at the Allianz Arena.
However, he may take some confidence from the fact that Bayern succumbed to a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal in the second leg of their last-16 tie after winning 3-1 in London.
"Right after the match it was tough but, as the days go by, you gain hope and receive messages of encouragement," Pique said.
"Football is psychological."
Tito Vilanova's side would settle for a repeat of their 4-0 win at home to Bayern in the first leg of their quarter-final match-up in 2009, a result which would take the tie into extra-time.
The four-time European champions have had to come from behind against AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain already in the knock-out stages of this season's competition.
However, they know that conceding a goal on Wednesday would render their prospects of progressing even more slender.
"Certainly if they score, we will need to score six," acknowledged Pique.
"But even defensively, when we have had to respond, we have always done so.
"Against Milan after the first leg (which they lost 2-0 before winning 4-0 at the Nou Camp), against Paris when they scored first in the second leg. That gives me confidence too. This team has lots of character."
Meanwhile, coach Tito Vilanova confirmed that Javier Mascherano will miss the game and added that a final decision would be taken on the fitness of Sergio Busquets after the last training session ahead of the game.
"We will see after training whether or not he is 100 percent fit for tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Vilanova.