andrés iniesta is out to regain that familiar winning feeling as fc barcelona bid to put their weekend woes behind them against panathinaikos fc and former team-mate luis garcía.
"the past doesn't win you matches" were andrés iniesta's considered words after fc barcelona's home league defeat by hercules cf on saturday – and the midfielder will keep them in mind when the blaugrana begin their uefa champions league season against panathinaikos fc.
iniesta is more used to winning after barcelona and spain's success in recent years, and the 26-year-old is not panicking as he prepares to face the greek champions at camp nou on tuesday. "when you lose, you just want to play the next game as soon as possible and win to feel good again," he said. "that's what we have to aim for. this is our first group match and we have to start well at home. the champions league is very demanding and you can't make many mistakes."
the fifa world cup final match-winner's ambitions for the campaign are clear. "we feel every year we have a duty to try to win the champions league," iniesta said. "last season we almost won it and, for the fans, that is something you don't forget. this season we have the chance to win it and be able to go to wembley, but it's a long road and first we face panathinaikos."
in 2005/06 panathinaikos were dismissed 5-0 at barcelona in the group stage, and iniesta is calling for the full support of the home fans as josep guardiola's men chase another win. "i hope the stadium is full," he said. "the more people in the stands, the better. we're much stronger with them than without. it's the first champions league matchday and panathinaikos have great players, which means we must be at 100%."
barcelona are famous for bringing through youth products but one of iniesta's academy predecessors luis garcía – a team-mate in 2003/04 – will line up for panathinaikos. "when i was in the youth teams, what i remember about luis garcía was he scored loads of goals. he was a great player," the no8 said. "the image i have of him as a player is brilliant, and as a person too."
forward garcía, who joined panathinaikos from real racing club in august, said of his camp nou return: "as usual i am delighted to be back. i have lots of friends here, it's a great stadium and i want to enjoy the atmosphere that a champions league game brings. everyone knows how barcelona play, their many strengths and how hard it is to play here. we hope that staying focused for 90 minutes will be enough for victory."
josep guardiola declared fc barcelona's performance in the 5-1 dismantling of panathinaikos fc to be "extraordinary" but warned future opponents the spanish side have "not hit top form yet".
josep guardiola could not conceal his excitement after fc barcelona overwhelmed panathinaikos fc 5-1 in their uefa champions league group d opener, with visiting coach nikos nioplias saying that to win "you need the ball and it's so difficult to get it from them".
josep guardiola, barcelona coach
you know i'm not one to walk around with my chest puffed out, but i have to say we played an extraordinary game tonight. you know you are doing things right when you manage to create 20-something chances against the greek champions, but we've not hit top form yet. we attacked much better than [in the 2-0 home loss against hércules cf on saturday]. víctor valdés only touched the ball once all night and that was to pick it out of his net. we're in this silly phase of the season when you play well and are on top and then concede a goal or you have a clear chance and you miss. we scored five tonight with a game based on movement, possession and being ourselves. the champions league is a tournament that demands you win your home games and we've done that tonight. [lionel messi] is the best player in the world by a distance; he always wants to play. try heading off to argentina for 11 days, coming straight back here and playing a game like he did tonight; see if you can. ok, he earns a lot of money but he's also only human.
nikos nioplias, panathinaikos coach
it's a heavy defeat, but we won't deviate from our goal; come 7 december we want to have qualified for the next phase. the fixture schedule wasn't ideal because we came to camp nou with only two official matches under our belts. the timing was even worse, as we played against barcelona after their defeat to hércules and they needed to prove that it was just a fluke. the tough task against barcelona isn't to run or man-mark, it's to keep the ball. if we had avoided conceding an equaliser so soon after our goal, perhaps we would have gained in confidence and barcelona would become more stressed. but, what's done is done and we need to look forward. barcelona have so much quality that nobody can come here and control a game. we couldn't keep possession and it didn't make any sense to just run back and forth all night. you also need to relax, you need the ball and it's so difficult to get it from them.