Cesc Fabregas said Barcelona had lifted the pressure surrounding Camp Nou after beating Manchester City 2-1 (4-1 Agg) to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Barca slipped four points behind arch-rival Real Madrid in La Liga title race at the weekend with a dismal 1-0 defeat at Real Valladolid, after which the attitude of several of the club’s high-profile players was questioned.
But they responded in style on Wednesday to dispose of Manuel Pellegrini's side.
Fabregas told Sky Sports 1: “It was a very tight game but we were playing a world class team so we knew it was going to be difficult.
“We take a lot of positives, I think we played a lot better than in the last few games. This was the way to lift the pressure on the club.
“We go home happy and for the last couple of games we could not have said that. I think we played a good game today against a class team.”
The former Arsenal man is hoping Barca can now go at least one stage further than last season when it was heavily beaten by eventual winner Bayern Munich in the semifinals.
He added: “When you play for Barca, you always try to reach the final, that’s the minimum. We know that will be difficult because there are some top teams left but a lot of people did not expect us to get through this tie and we did.”
A report in Spain on Wednesday afternoon claimed coach Tata Martino would be leaving the club at the end of the season, lending weight to the theory that all is not well at the Camp Nou.
But Fabregas insisted morale is fine heading into the final few weeks of the season.
“Everything is good. We are in the final of the Copa del Rey, against Real Madrid and we are only four points behind in the league,” he said.
“It is true that last weekend we had a terrible result but it is still four points only. We still have to go to Madrid and we need a result.
“We are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League so it’s not that bad. Many teams would like to be in our position.”
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- Real Madrid
- Real Valladolid
- Manchester City
- Manuel Pellegrini