Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique has reflected on his upturn in fortunes this season, reflecting that he returned from the Euros last summer ‘strong and motivated’.
The recently-turned 26-year-old is enjoying a better season for club and country this year, after struggles during the 2011-12 campaign.
“I’m very proud, and this is a unique period. I think it reflects the fact that things are going well, both individually and as a team,” he told FIFA’s official website in an interview published today.
“I realise these are moments that you have to enjoy and make the most of.
“[Last year] my injuries wouldn’t let me perform to the level I wanted, and disrupted my continuity in the team.
“[Then] The European Championships in the summer gave me a lot of breathing space and the team played very well defensively, which served as a platform for this season.
“I’ve come back strong and motivated, and the team is playing superbly too, which always helps.
“[The scrutiny] always affects you a little, because the best thing as a defender is when people don’t talk about you, and when the rumours start it always makes you uncomfortable.
“But it’s part of football and I’ve learned to deal with it. Now I value my well-being much more.
“When I arrived at Barcelona everything went smoothly and it all seemed very easy, but when things get complicated it makes you value what you’ve got, and helps you to be a better player.”
This season has seen improved consistency from the defender, as well as all round from La Blaugrana, in opening up a significant lead in the title race.
“We’re taking it game by game, and we’re training very hard and well. The way you train is the way you play, and in the end if you train well, you’ll play well. That’s how we approach matches and it never changes, not even when the pressure is at its greatest.
“Tito is doing a great job. He’s not doing any more or less than Pep – he’s simply doing what he did, and adding his own touch. The team is performing superbly and the transition has been seamless.
“The lead over Madrid? You never expect it, and it’s clear that nobody expected it this time. Madrid had just won the League and they have a great team.
“It’s a very significant gap but you can never take it for granted.
“[But] I think we’re in a good position to lift all three trophies. We’ve got ambition, desire and talent, which in general are the ingredients you need for victory.
“I think that, in the Copa del Rey, Champions League and La Liga, we’ve shown the kind of level that makes us believe we can be champions.”