Quique Setien has admitted that his Barcelona players will be thinking about their damaging defeats at the hands of both Liverpool and Roma as they prepare to take on Napoli on Tuesday evening.
The Catalan giants have looked uncharacteristically fragile in Europe in recent seasons and have thrown away huge leads in their most important Champions League fixtures of the last two campaigns.
Their 4-1 win at home to Roma in the quarter-finals of 2017/18 was followed by a 3-0 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico sending them out of the competition on away goals.
That was followed by a 3–0 home win against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in last season’s semi-finals, which proceeded a 4-0 defeat at Anfield as their opponents went on the taste glory.
"The reality is that we've spoken very little about [Roma and Liverpool], although I'm sure they'll have it in their minds," Setien said before the first European tie in his new role.
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"Maybe it's not comparable. We've experienced incredibly tough games and I think the team is fine.
"The team is confident that we'll continue in this dynamic, I trust that we'll maintain the level that we've been giving for some time."
Barcelona have closed the gap in La Liga to gain a two-point lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid at the top, with Setien now excited to test his team out on the continent.
He added: ”There's no doubt that it's my first match in the Champions League and it's a motivation.
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"It's exciting for me to start this journey at a stadium like this, which is full of passion and history.
"I think it's going to be a passionate game. There's no better place to start."
News emerged on Monday that the Barcelona squad were to be tested for coronavirus before the meeting in Naples due to a recent breakout that caused the postponement of four Serie A matches at the weekend.
ESPN reported that Setien’s players were to be checked for fever and that anyone showing signs of illness would have been taken directly to hospital and therefore ruled out of their first-leg.
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Despite the ongoing health worries, the former Betis boss was focussed on the task at hand with Lionel Messi hitting form in the win over Eibar on Saturday.
"We can face the near future with guarantees, the team is prepared for what is coming. The team and the players are interested in competing.
"We are aware of what is happening but the players are isolated. We can't control the media noise that exists. We focus on football.”
- Barcelona FC
- Liverpool FC
- Jurgen Klopp
- Champions League
- Napoli FC
- Lionel Messi
- La Liga
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