Barcelona legend Carles Puyol has stated in an exclusive interview with AS that the Catalan players are fully committed to the Spain national team. Puyol believes his former teammate Gerard Pique is a key player for the Spanish Champions and the fans that are booing him are ‘making a mistake’.
The 37-year-old came up through the ranks of Barca’s reputed youth system, La Masia and later, went on to become a longtime team captain for his boyhood club. Puyol enjoyed a glorious career with the Blaugrana, winning 21 major titles, notably three Champions League trophies and six La Liga titles.
In the national side, he was regarded as one of Spain’s finest, representing them on 100 occasions and was instrumental in the team’s Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup triumph.
After seeing his side hammer their arch rivals by 4 goals at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend, Puyol was asked about whether he had predicted the scoreline and expected an easy win from his former side.
“No. I had faith in the team but the Bernabéu is a very difficult ground to go to, so I expected a more even game,” he replied.
“Barcelona were the much better side.”
He also praised Luis Enrique for managing the egos of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in the dressing room.
“Not just the forwards, but also Andrés [Iniesta] and before that Xavi. Barcelona have number ones in every position,” he added.
“The way they play is spectacular and the team's strength is in their unity; their talent is a given.”
“The three forwards are nice guys and they make sacrifices for the team; that's the key. Egos have been the downfall of very good teams.”
“Every player has to know what his role is and to be ambitious, because if winning is a good feeling, winning again is even better.”
Treatment meted out to former teammate Pique by fans a mistake: Puyol
The former Barca skipper formed a rock solid defensive partnership with Pique at the Nou Camp and many believed the duo were one of Europe’s best defensive pairings. But ever since the former’s retirement, Pique has had to take up the responsibility in the Blaugrana’s backline and thus far, he has fared well alongside Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba.
However, the former Manchester United centre-back has been receiving a lot of stick from the Spanish fans during the international meets, but Puyol believes the supporters are making a mistake by booing him, as he continues to remain one of the key players in Vicente del Bosque’s side.
“No. He is a key player for Spain and he has always fronted up for the national side,” Puyol said.
“Those that are booing him are making a mistake, although you have to respect people's opinions.”
“Nobody can doubt the commitment of Catalan players to the Spain team; we've always given absolutely everything.”
Spain are back on the right track: Puyol
La Roja, who were the reigning world champions, had a nightmare World Cup 2014 campaign in Brazil last year as they failed to qualify past the group stage after humiliating losses to Netherlands and Chile.
Since then, Del Bosque’s men have endured a fine run of form during the Euro 2018 qualifiers and Puyol believes they are back on the right track.
“They look very good to me. A new generation is coming through and those that have been around for a while are in good form,” he said.
“The demands are very high because of everything that has been achieved before, but this side is capable of repeating those successes.”Published 24 Nov 2015, 16:45 IST