By Iain Spragg
FC Barcelona are targeting an ambitious domestic and European treble this season, according to on-loan midfield player Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Speaking to uefa.com ahead of the second leg of the Catalan club's UEFA Cup clash with Greek side Panionios NFC this week, the 28-year-old Dutch international declared: "
Our objectives are simple. We want to win the Spanish league and cup, and the UEFA Cup. Of course, there is always more chance of getting one of the cups and it would be a massive achievement to get our hands on the UEFA Cup trophy."
Barcelona face Panionios at the Camp Nou today with a three-goal cushion from the first leg. And although, their first target is to ensure safe passage into the third round, Van Bronckhorst sees no problem in setting his sights a little higher.
"We are a fairly young side, and there have been a lot of changes recently so it is important to everyone at the club to demonstrate that we are moving in the right direction," he said. "Normally you would expect Barcelona to be playing in the Champions League, but we are now fully focused on challenging for the UEFA Cup.
"We certainly want to be around when the teams that drop out of the Champions League come in. That is bound to throw up some very exciting games. The UEFA Cup is a major objective for Barcelona this year."
Barcelona carved out their three-goal lead in Greece thanks to strikes from Luis García, Xavi Hernández and second-half substitute Patrick Kluivert and were rarely troubled by the Greek side, who lie sixth in their domestic league.
Upsetting the odds
Few would predict a Panionis victory tonight, but Van Bronckhorst, currently on a season-long loan from English Premiership leaders Arsenal FC, has warned his team-mates that they should approach the return leg like any other match.
"As long as we keep our concentration our 3-0 lead should be enough," the former Rangers FC midfield player said. "Barcelona are obviously one of the biggest teams in the competition and so we know that every game we play will be a bit like a cup final.
"We played really well in the first leg. They are a decent, well-organised team, but I think we have a bit too much ability for them. It's interesting playing in the competition at this stage because you are often up against so-called lesser opposition that you know very little about. It's always a step into the unknown playing these teams and going to slightly unusual places."
Barcelona go into the game on the back of a disappointing 2-1 reverse against Villarreal CF in the Primera División at the weekend and without the services of influential Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho. However, Van Bronckhorst insists the Catalans have enough strength in depth to cope.
"It's unfortunate that Ronaldinho won't be playing in the second leg," he said. "He played a big part in the first leg and is a key member of the team. But we have plenty of guys who can come in, and Patrick Kluivert can certainly do the job for us.
Patrick's a fantastic player whose confidence is coming back. I'm sure we'll be professional enough to get through to the third round and then things will really start to get interesting."
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