Thiago Silva has looked ahead to Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Barcelona and commented on the Spaniards’ strength.
PSG head into tomorrow evening’s home leg last eight clash as the underdogs against Tito Vilanova’s side, something that whilst their Brazilian centre-back is happy to accept, he is determined to disprove.
“Barcelona are always favourites, whatever team they’re playing against,” Silva told FIFA’s official website in an interview published today.
“And they deserve to be too, thanks to their recent track record and the incredibly high standards they hit. But I always say that this [favourites’ status] is an off-the-pitch thing.
“On it, we’ve got the chance to turn that on its head. They’ll be two tough games between two great teams.
“They’ll be aiming for the title, just as we are, so we’ll be trying to stop them. We’ve maybe got a little less experience than they do, but we’ve got a quality squad packed with players used to decisive matches.”
Barca welcome back Vilanova to the bench after two months away in New York undergoing treatment for cancer. The 44-year-old is midway through his first season since replacing Pep Guardiola as Coach.
“Today’s Barcelona are a bit different to that side under [Pep] Guardiola, even though the players are the same.
“It’s not even anything out on the pitch, it’s perhaps more of a leadership issue, due to that change in Coach.
“But I don’t think it’ll make much difference in the end, because Tito [Vilanova] and his coaching staff knew Guardiola well and have carried on the good work.
“People always talk and analyse their results, but I don’t think the change is as radical as they think – it’s only when you play them that you find out how difficult they are to face.
“We know where their weakness is and we’ll try and exploit it, but that’s not something I can tell you about here! [laughs].”
Silva faced Barca in last year’s quarter-finals when in the ranks of Italian side Milan. La Blaugrana won 3-1 on aggregate after a goalless first leg draw in Italy.
“I think that yes, I can be useful by trying to guide and warn my teammates about what I saw. But that’s also fairly relative, because Barca are so versatile they’re capable of doing something completely unexpected, which can end up making you look silly.
“They’ve got the best team in the world, the best player, and several others who help him out with their passing and movement. We need to train really hard and study videos, so we know how to stop their main attacking channels.
“In any case, we’re going to focus on the first leg, try and get a great result at home and then try and clinch qualification in the Camp Nou.”
The Brazilian then turned his attention to life in Paris and to the different kind of pressure that he sees teammate and former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic under, compared with when the duo were at Milan together from 2010 to 2012.
“It was a bit different. I can see that here there’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders, in terms of the project that’s being carried out. At Milan, on the other hand, the team had already been built.
“What’s more, because of how balanced the Italian Championship is, it’s not seen as absurd when you lose to a supposedly weaker side. Here, no: when we lose a game…the papers throw loads of mud at us, they start bringing up our salaries, the money that’s been spent, we get accused of lacking ambition.
“Ibra is the Division’s leading scorer and deserves it, because he trains really hard and is very committed.
“The kind of stuff said about us is to be expected at a team like ours, but we need to be ready to handle it.
“Now, at least, our morale is better thanks to the season we’re having. In the French Championship, for example, we’re getting more respect from the other teams.”