Gerard Piqué says renewed talk of a May treble for FC Barcelona is premature, especially on the eve of a meeting with Zlatan Ibrahimović and an AC Milan side he regards as one of Europe's top three.
The holders head to San Siro on Wednesday for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie confident of a repeat of the group stage triumph they managed four months ago, if not the 3-2 scoreline. Confident but not complacent. "It's better to know your opponents, but they know us too," Piqué warned. "We studied Milan and we'll continue to do so until kick-off. We need to figure out how to attack them."
They did not struggle to score against the Rossoneri in the autumn, having opened their trophy defence with a 2-2 draw in September. The question, though, is how to attack with caution, without being so susceptible at the back. Piqué, who did not feature in either group game, has a fair idea where to start: "
It's always difficult to stop a striker of Zlatan Ibrahimović's quality. We have to be really focused; we can't give him any space. He's having a great season, scoring in every possible situation."
Indeed, the Sweden striker took his tally to 29 goals this season in all competitions for Milan with a pair in Saturday's 2-1 victory against AS Roma. Not that Piqué needs further proof of his talents having played alongside Ibrahimović at Camp Nou in 2009/10. "It was a pleasure to play with him. He's a great player and he helped Barcelona win trophies. We'll do everything to stop him, though. He's very dangerous, but we have the quality to defend against him."
Piqué was also on target at the weekend in a 2-0 win at RCD Mallorca, a timely personal fillip in what has been a stop-start campaign. "It has been a difficult season for me due to injuries," admitted the Spanish international. "The goal against Mallorca was important for me, as was my performance. We are going through a good spell even if it is too soon to talk of the treble [of UEFA Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey] – we will take each game as it comes. First up is Milan, one of the top three teams in Europe. It will be a challenge, but we will do everything to get through."
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