Ex-Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué: “Nobody will remember Real Madrid’s last Champions League win”
In an interview on Catalan radio, Piqué discussed the Barça-Madrid rivalry, Vinícius, Xavi Hernández, the Negreira scandal and more.
Ex-Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué was on top form in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1, in which he backed Xavi Hernández as Barça head coach and gave his view on the differences between his former club and Real Madrid, whose last Champions League victory didn’t impress him in the slightest.
Barcelona and Real Madrid rivalry
The Kings League founder began by discussing La Blaugrana’s rivalry with the capital club: “We are in a country in which more people support Real Madrid than Barcelona and they are the team from the capital. We’ll always be the ones who are in the shadows and trying to get one over on them. We don’t have to go into these battles and make our own way, which is closely linked to theirs because of the rivalry. Instead, I think we need to try to focus on who we are.”
Madrid’s “forgettable” Champions League win
“Madrid’s current team is just more of the same. They don’t offer much but they get results, and when February comes around they’ll still be in with a chance of winning every competition, including the Champions League, of course. When we win, we are remembered forever. When they win, it’s just one more. Their last Champions League victory was a miracle because they were second-best in every round and nobody will remember it”, he continued.
The former defender admitted he “always liked playing against players like Vinícius because it was a challenge. You always have to be concentrating. If there’s one thing that really does it for me, it’s challenges like that.”
“Extra pressure” on Barça to win in style
Piqué, who owns second division team FC Andorra, also gave his view on how Barcelona are faring under Xavi: “You need patience, like with any project. At Andorra, we have lost five games in a row but I’m not going to fire the coach. As long as there are solutions, you have to be patient. I know that you have to win every day here, but Xavi is one of our own, he knows the club, he loves the club and is the ideal person to lead Barça. We need to win and play well and when that’s not happening, people get frustrated and criticise you. The demands are very high and that’s the way it should be. But when you’re on the inside, you get used to it. Madrid would be delighted with a win like the one we had in San Sebastián, but not us. That puts extra pressure on the players.”
The former Barcelona defender, now a full-time businessman, revealed he has not spoken to Xavi since he retired but claimed he missed competing and being in the dressing room. “I haven’t played sports for a year because playing sports for the sake of it without competing doesn’t work for me. But I think I did the right thing and I wouldn’t go back. I am happy with the career I had and I made the right decision. I still watch games, I watched El Clásico, but I didn’t see yesterday’s game (against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League), as I was traveling. I also watch Andorra’s games. I used to watch all Real Madrid’s games but I don’t any anymore.”
Piqué for Barcelona president?
Piqué has previously suggested he would like to become Barcelona president in the future, an idea which has faded somewhat into the background: “I wouldn’t rule out being president of Barcelona, but it’s not part of my plans now. It is very hard, you have to make a lot of sacrifices and you’re very exposed. I would only do it if it meant helping the club.”
Barça “infinitely better” than other teams during “Negreira years”
The defender played for Barça between 2008 and 2022, with the club currently being investigated for making payments to José María Enríquez, the former vice president of the Spanish referees’ committee, during the first 10 years of Piqué's spell: “It’s difficult to talk about it in the middle of a legal process. I’m sure explanations will be given, but it’s incredible that people think we won something because of the referees. We were so infinitely better than everyone that there was no referee who could help us.”
Barça’s mix of youth and experience
The 36-year-old was also asked about the number of young players making an impact on the Barcelona first team this season: “Having a mix of youth and experience is good. It went well for us, but there are many reasons why we had so much success. The youngsters now are maybe not be as hardened as before. I had heard about Lamine Yamal and even trained with him, but I knew nothing about Fermín López and Marc Guiu. It would be reckless to think that they can win the Champions League for us now.”
Piqué was also full of praise for surprise LaLiga leaders Girona, who are “starting to look like Leicester (who won the English Premier League against the odds in 2016). It’s exciting to watch them play. It will be very difficult for them but it was also difficult for Leicester. They deserve a lot of admiration.”