Zambrotta focused on United
Gianluca Zambrotta admits that Barcelona are entering the most important part of their season.
By Francisco Acedo
Last Updated: 21/04/08 12:05pm
Gianluca Zambrotta admits that Barcelona's upcoming UEFA Champions League encounter with Manchester United has taken on added importance.
The Italian full-back feels that success in the European semi-final contest is vital to the Catalan giants as the competition now represents their only realistic hope of picking up some silverware.
Their recent poor domestic form would seemingly have put the Primera Division title out of reach, and Zambrotta acknowledges that every player in the Barca squad must now focus their full attention on the Red Devils tie.
"These matches against Manchester United are the most important of our season," he told Catalonia Radio.
"It is essential that we forget about the Liga and concentrate fully on the English side.
"If we play with pride and use our heads then we are capable of victory.
"Manchester are not the favourites because anything is possible when two big clubs play each other.
"We will not need to change our system, even though the matches are now an elimination contest.
"It is vital that we do not concede an away goal, and that we head to Old Trafford with a serious chance of going through."
The former Juventus defender also accepts that Barca must prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from influencing proceedings if they are to emerge victorious.
"He is the big danger for United because he has had a sensational season," said Zambrotta.
"But we are also keen to stop the likes of (Carlos) Tevez and (Wayne) Rooney.
"For us to keep Ronaldo out it is essential that we defend as a unit and keep our rivals under intense pressure."
While Zambrotta remains wary of Ronaldo's talents, he feels that it will be his Argentinian team-mate Lionel Messi who will have the greatest impact over the two legs.
"Leo Messi will be key for us in this round," he said.
"He is a star who is capable of influencing the outcome of the match."
Finally, Zambrotta refused to be drawn on the speculation which continues to link him with a summer move away from Camp Nou.
"For now I am not thinking about my future because I only live in the present and I am dreaming of Champions League glory."