Pedro: We’re going to San Siro to win
Pedro Rodriguez says he knows the Champions League last-16 first leg at AC Milan will be difficult but that Barcelona are going there to win.
On Wednesday, Barca will be making their sixth visit to the San Siro in 12 years, the most recent of which a 0-0 draw in last season’s quarter-final first leg, when Milan had chances to win the game. Barca eased through in the return game, winning 3-1 at the Camp Nou largely thanks to two first-half Lionel Messi penalties.
Pedro is expected to start the latest clash between two of Europe’s biggest clubs, with David Villa not included in the travelling squad after agreeing with coach Jordi Roura to remain in Barcelona as a precautionary measure following last week’s persistent stomach problems.
Bringing a lead back to Barcelona for the second leg was the objective this time around, Pedro told reporters after training on Monday morning.
“We are going to San Siro to win,” the winger said. “We must be attentive in defence, but we will try to get a win. Milan have also been difficult for us – they have many trophies and such a big history. They are dangerous as always. We are on a good run and we hope to play a good game there. We want to be in every competition and we are looking to go for everything.”
Playmaker Xavi Hernandez is back in the Barca squad after missing two games with a hamstring problem, although utility man Adriano Correia misses out due to the hamstring injury that saw him substituted early in Saturday’s 2-1 win Primera Division win at Granada.
Pedro played 72 minutes of that victory, which was secured by two more Lionel Messi goals. The Spanish media focused after the game on the Argentine’s angry remonstrations towards Cristian Tello after the youngster had not passed him the ball inside the penalty area.
Pedro said the incidents were nothing out of the ordinary in football, preferring to focus on Messi’s incredible record-breaking feats – 14 consecutive La Liga games on the scoresheet and 301 goals already in a Barcelona shirt at age 25.
“These type of things always happen, to everyone,” he said. “It happens to him [Messi]; it happens to me. Sometimes I make the wrong decision and get shouted at, but everything stays on the pitch. Messi has a lot of ambition. Each day he is better. We hope he keeps playing like this. He is beating all the records. You cannot even imagine these figures.”
Pedro denied Barcelona were over-reliant on Messi, or that his team-mates were under any special instructions to play to the Argentine’s strengths.
“There is total freedom on the pitch,” he said, “although it is obvious that you always look more towards some players – like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas or Messi. He always carries the team on his shoulders, and you notice it if he is not there, but the team is very strong. I do not believe there is any ‘Messi-dependence’.”
Pedro’s own goal-scoring record for Barcelona is less impressive, with just six goals in all competitions at club level so far this season. The Spain international said he would like to have scored more, but it was not too important as the team was being successful.
“I feel good on the pitch. I am doing my work and helping the team,” he said. “Forwards always like to score goals, but the most important thing is that the team does well. You always want to score, but it is difficult. This year I am finding it a bit harder to score, but I am happy as I am getting chances.”
Barca travel to Milan early on Tuesday morning, and will train at the San Siro that evening. Assistant coach Jordi Roura will again be directing affairs from the bench, with boss Tito Vilanova still receiving medical treatment in New York.