Alves: Not over until final whistle

Dani Alves has affirmed Barcelona’s determination to fight for the comeback against Milan until the final whistle this week.

The Catalans host the Milanese on Tuesday evening in the Champions League Last 16 second leg with a 2-0 deficit to try and overturn.

“If we play at our level, we will have a lot of chances. We have spectacular players, so I don't think this tie will be decided until the referee blows the final whistle,” Brazilian full-back Alves told UEFA’s official website in an interview published today.

“The desire to enjoy this is very great, and great challenges are there for great teams. Let's see where we stand at the end – if we really are the team that's respected all over the world, or if we cannot reach that level. We're very confident in our team and the players we have.”

Since losing to Milan in the first leg, Barca have suffered back-to-back defeats to Real Madrid in the Cup and League, making for an indifferent patch of form.

“We've been marching differently. When we march together properly, Barça are a very big team, but when we don't we're a normal team.

“So it's all down to us and whether we go into the game in the right way or the wrong way, like we did over there. If we do that, we'll be out – but if we march together, we'll have a chance.”

Alves was asked if Tito Vilanova’s absence as Coach has been a contributing factor to the dip in form.

“When you have a role model and someone you trust, where you can close your eyes and just listen to his ideas, and he knows he can manage things, then of course you miss him.

“We need our Coach, we need his ideas and we need him for help when things are difficult. It’s the same as taking [Lionel] Messi out of your team: when you take the role model out of your team, things go less well.

“You do the best you can, but in the end you notice it. That's not an excuse for the situation we're in and the games we've lost, because we've also won games while he's not been here.

“But when you lose, that creates scope for people to sell newspapers. Saying ‘Barca are doing well’ isn’t news. It’s news when Barca lose, or when we lose two games in a row. That’s news, that’s what sells and that's what people want to buy.

“It’s strange because when we won a lot of games and there was a big points difference between ourselves and Madrid, people were almost celebrating.

“I thought that was odd because we hadn’t had any difficult moments yet and they were bound to happen at some point. I wanted my team to respond well [when they did], and that difficult moment has now arrived.

“I'd like to see how our team responds and whether we're really prepared to face these difficult times or not.”

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