Chelsea will travel to Spain to play Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 having played a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in the first leg.
Cesc Fabregas returned to Camp Nou on Wednesday for the first time since he left the club for Chelsea in 2014. He has won two Premier League titles in England and one Football League Cup with Chelsea. Fabregas returned to Barcelona from London in the year 2011 in a deal worth up to £35 million.
During his three-year spell at the Camp Nou, Fàbregas played alongside Xavi and Andrés Iniesta and won many titles including La Liga, the FIFA Club world cup. He spoke to Marca ahead of tomorrow’s clash against his former club in the Champions League game.
Did you realize that would be your last Barcelona appearance?
“I haven’t played a single game there since that day, I didn’t realize it would be my last appearance for the club, but the truth is that it was a very sad day all round.”
What does it mean to return to your city?
“It’s a mix of desire and mystery; it will be a complicated, difficult match. 90 minutes of football at the Camp Nou is a long time for any visiting team. We’re working well and are looking forward to the challenge, we’re prepared.”
It will also be against friends like Pique and Messi, how does that feel?
“I like playing against friends, you feel an extra motivation. I like it, the feelings have always been positive ones. I did it with Arsenal and now with Chelsea, I’ve felt pretty good on both occasions. It doesn’t bother me to play against my previous club or old friends, it motivates me.”
What do you think when you see Messi on an opposing team, do you see him as a rival or a friend?
“I see him as a rival who wants to win, and I want the same thing. We are in different teams and each player wants what is best for their own club. Obviously, you always have respect for each other. If I am lucky enough to play, it’s true that we are positioned in nearby areas of the pitch, stopping him will be difficult but I will try to do everything possible so that he feels uncomfortable and can’t put together a perfect performance.”
If you stop to assess the tie, Chelsea only need to score one goal, more complicated challenges have been passed, would you agree?
“Yes, it’s difficult as the Camp Nou is very big and you have to run a lot, but we’ll work together. The key is to take advantage of our opportunities, we have to play our game but do damage when possible. I’ve never trained tactically as much as I have at Chelsea and it shows on the pitch, it’s demanding but we end up benefitting from it.”
Would you celebrate scoring a goal at the Camp Nou?
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it at all. I’ve only scored two goals this season and it’s been a while since my last goal. There are feelings at such a moment that you can’t predict, I can’t definitively say I won’t celebrate, but it’s unlikely I would.
I don’t think I’ll get many chances due to the position I play, what he asks of me is different to others. You never know in football and I hope it can happen, but I haven’t thought about it.”
Why did you decide to sign for Chelsea?
“Mourinho convinced me, he made everything so clear to me. I had other offers but as soon as we spoke I was convinced about joining Chelsea.”
Are you still motivated by playing football?
“Yes, a lot. I enjoy every training session, every game and I still have a few years left to continue what I’ve been doing since I was 16.”
The Blues travel to Spain after a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday night. Hence would be full of optimism when they take on the Catalans. However, it wouldn’t be too easy a task against the Catalan Giants, given that Barcelona is also in fine form and are still unbeaten in the La Liga.