Andrés Iniesta was on the scoresheet last season when a 2-2 semi-final second-leg draw against Chelsea FC eliminated his FC Barcelona side with the UEFA Champions League final within touching distance.
Now, the same scoreline in last week's quarter-final first leg at Paris Saint-Germain FC has arguably left the Blaugrana in the driving seat ahead of Wednesday's return match; two away goals boosting their odds of booking a sixth successive last-four berth in the competition.
"We're facing a very strong team, with the semi-finals at stake for another season," said midfielder Iniesta. "We're playing at home and we have a [first-leg] result that isn't too bad, but we'll have to give a practically perfect performance to go through.
"This game will be serious," continued the 28-year-old. "We have to handle it properly, every part of it, but we must also match the intensity and ambition we showed against Milan. When we play like that, our opponents suffer a lot. Tomorrow isn't as demanding [Barcelona trailed Milan 2-0 after their round of 16 opener at San Siro], but we still need to perform. Unfortunately we don't have a full squad, which weakens us, but the team will play as if it were the final."
The potential weakness to which he refers are the injury to Javier Mascherano and fitness doubts surrounding Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodríguez and Adriano – all three of whom face late tests on their availability. The absence of Messi, of course, could hit Barça hardest.
"Without doubt, there is a Messi-dependence in the team in the sense that he's a fundamental player, the No1," said Iniesta. "But we have enough top-level options and those who play tomorrow must ensure things go well. We all like winning."
Winning is something Barcelona have been accustomed to more than most, but their domestic travails at this stage last term – when Barça lagged behind rivals and eventual Spanish champions Real Madrid CF – were cited as a reason they took their eye off the European prize in that semi-final with Chelsea. Iniesta urged his colleagues, this time the runaway Liga leaders, to avoid a repeat.
"We like people to be proud of our work," he concluded. "We can't lack that ambition to reach the semi-finals one more time. We should think about the final we didn't make last season and maybe we can this time. This season we have the Liga to our advantage and we want to be in the next round of the Champions League."
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