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Puyol calls for style and substance

Carles Puyol believes that FC Barcelona have two principal aims against FC Schalke 04 – and neither involves trying to protect a 1-0 first-leg advantage.

Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés in conversation in Gelsenkirchen
Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés in conversation in Gelsenkirchen ©Getty Images

Carles Puyol believes FC Barcelona have two principal aims in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg against FC Schalke 04, and neither involves attempting to protect the 1-0 advantage gained in Gelsenkirchen.

Pañolada protest
The captain and centre-back is adamant that Barcelona must win the game and play sufficiently entertaining football to reclaim the faith of the Camp Nou fans. The team's goalless home draw with Getafe CF in the Primera División on Sunday was greeted with the traditional 'pañolada' protest – whereby white handkerchiefs are waved to signify supporters' discontent – a sight almost unknown during Frank Rijkaard's five-year reign. Puyol, who turns 30 on Sunday, is eager to avoid a repeat performance.

'Great opportunity'
"We would obviously prefer the atmosphere to be more positive going into such an important match," the Spanish international said. "But I've always said that the atmosphere that our supporters generate at the Camp Nou is in our hands. We are the ones who can inspire them." That, he appreciates, means doing more than just progressing to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals – they must advance in style. "We respect our fans and their behaviour when they are not happy with us, and this is a great opportunity to revive their confidence in and enjoyment of our football."

No complacency
If Puyol's words hint at complacency then that is an impression he wishes to avert. Both he and his central defensive partner, Gabriel Milito, came under aerial attack in Germany last Tuesday as Schalke threatened a goal during a resurgent second-half display. "Despite our need to play adventurously, this is a match where, I hope, we can show how we can control a game," Puyol continued. "No one should think for one minute that we are through. I am demanding a serious performance from the team because Schalke showed us that they are very dangerous when the ball is in the air – any degree of complacency would be unforgiveable."