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It may have taken them an overnight road trip to get there, but FC Barcelona full-back Daniel Alves has warned UEFA Champions League last-four opponents FC Internazionale Milano that the European champions were treated to some inspirational cinematic fare aboard their coach to Italy.
Josep Guardiola's side were unable to fly to Milan for Tuesday's semi-final opener due to air-travel restrictions caused by the cloud of volcanic ash over the continent, so instead they made the 1,000km journey in a pair of coaches. The 14-hour trek was interrupted by a night's stay in Cannes, and the French town famous for its international film festival proved a fitting halfway house given how the players kept themselves amused.
"The journey was OK and we're well-rested now," said Alves, before revealing: "We watched a movie, Invictus." The Clint Eastwood film foregrounds the South African rugby team's route to World Cup glory against the odds in 1995 and it is easy to imagine Guardiola having selected the picture himself. After all, the Blaugrana coach psyched his charges up for last year's UEFA Champions League final triumph against Manchester United FC by showing them a short film interspersing highlights of their season with the Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator.
That filmic venture was said to have reduced some of the team to tears, but Alves maintained that such motivational techniques are almost wasted on him, particularly with another European showpiece so close. "Honestly, it would be difficult to find a player with the same hunger to play in a Champions League final as me," he said. "There are two games to go to reach the final in Madrid; it will be tough and we are playing at a very high level. We respect Inter but we will try to get a good result and seal qualification in Barcelona."
The 26-year-old may also be keen to impress after his sending-off at city neighbours RCD Espanyol on Saturday hindered Barcelona's Liga defence. Their 0-0 draw allowed Real Madrid CF to close within a point, but Alves insisted confidence remains high and denied the pressure to compete on multiple fronts is taking its toll. "
We're playing many games at the moment, but it's such a positive time for us," he explained. "We're so close to something beautiful that we aren't about to complain or use this as an excuse."
Nor is the Brazil defender daunted to be coming up against Inter's Maicon, his direct rival for the right-back berth at international level and scorer of a stunning volley against Juventus on Friday. "I'll be facing the other Brazilian right-back but it's not important for me," said Alves. "We've already played against each other in the past." Perhaps, but never with so much at stake.
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