Gerard Pique explains tiki-taka remark
Gerard Pique: You can't expect to win Champions League
Gerard Pique has said his remark that Barcelona had become “slaves to tiki-taka” in recent seasons were taken out of context while underlining his opinion that his team needed to add more variety to their game.
Pique suggested in a recent interview with Gazzetta dello Sport that Barca became too predictable under former coaches Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova and that he was happy new boss Gerardo Martino was adding more tactical variation to their game.
Martino then criticised the “commotion” in Catalonia that followed the comments, saying people had to read the whole interview to understand what Pique had meant.
Speaking ahead of Barca’s Champions League Group H opener against Celtic on Wednesday, the Spain international said reports he wanted Barca to tear up their tactical plans and start again were wrong, but he again pointed out that some change was necessary as opponents had begun to figure them out.
“The headline was taken out of context,” Pique said. “From there everyone has their opinion. I wanted to say that we had become very predictable. We cannot change our style of play -- it has been good for us, and we will always have it, although in recent years teams have known how we play.
“They hit us on the break, while we have been moving the ball horizontally, always through Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta. Sometimes it looked like a game of handball. So we are looking for more different ways to attack, to be more vertical, to win the ball back high up the pitch -- so we can score a goal in one pass. All goals count the same.”
Pique admitted that Barca were having some issues incorporating Martino’s tactical tweaks, meaning defenders had worked extra hard in recent narrow victories over Valencia and Sevilla in La Liga.
“I feel good, but the centre-halves have to run backwards a lot,” he said. “There are days when things go better than others. They showed us the stats from the last game and the defenders had never run as far. We could play better, but then we have won all four games in La Liga and have won the Supercopa. We have a new coach, giving us new ideas, so we can be happy, but know that we can improve. So we are in a very good and comfortable position.”
Pique also rejected a suggestion by a reporter that after last season’s 7-0 semi-final humbling by Bayern Munich, Barca would prioritise European success this season.
“Our principle objective is always La Liga. If we also win the Champions League, then it is a brilliant year,” Pique said. “We cannot start the year saying it is our objective, because you can reach the semi-finals, have a bad game, and then you lose it. La Liga is a better mark of whether the team has done well or not, and last year we did very, very well -- with such a distance over the second team [Real Madrid] it was a great season considering everything we went through.”
A win at home to Ajax would set the team up well for other Group H games against Milan and Celtic, Pique said.
“The team is very motivated to begin the competition,” he said. “This is the most prestigious competition, with the biggest European teams. We want to play a big role -- Barca will fight to win it, to go as far as possible. We will go game by game, but it is important to start well. We have qualified without too many problems for a while now. But we need to win at home, and then move on to next five games calmly.”