Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes the club's priority remains La Liga this season as the Blaugrana prepare to get their Champions League campaign underway.
The Spanish champions face Eredivsie title-holder Ajax on Wednesday at Camp Nou as they look to put last season's humbling defeat to Bayern Munich behind them, but Pique believes too much focus on lifting Europe's top prize can ultimately work against a team come the end of the season.
"I think Barcelona’s role is to win the league above all," Pique said at a pre-match press conference. "The Champions League is an extra that means you have had a tremendously good season. If you base everything on winning the Champions League, things can look bad if you don’t end up doing so - that’s why the league is more important. Against Bayern [last season] we weren’t comfortable, they were better than us, and that’s it. We won the league last season in a tremendous fashion and that is valuable."
Pique recently claimed that Barcelona has suffered from becoming overly reliant on its tiki-taka brand of playing in recent seasons, and the defender has clarified the importance of finding a suitable 'Plan B' in the attack - something which he hopes the club will find under Gerardo Martino this season.
"I recently said we became too predictable," Pique said. "People thought I was criticizing our style of play, but if we changed that style we wouldn't have won so many titles and we wouldn't be here now. Clubs know how we play, and opponents can predict our moves and create danger with counterattacks. We need alternatives when we attack to be able to score goals, be faster in getting to the box.
"We have spoken to Martino about changes, and we have a team with very offensive players. When we're 3-0 up, we carry on attacking when other clubs would sit on that result - we don't know how to do that. This club can't consider that option."
Finally, Pique acknowledged the benefit of Barca's La Masia contingent breaking into the side over recent years, admitting that the emergence of the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi has been the only way the club has coped with the spending power of Real Madrid.
"We’re lucky we have had a unique generation that's come through the youth team at zero cost," Pique said. "If we didn't have those players, we wouldn't be able to compete with Real Madrid. But that's always been the case in the history of Spanish football. We play with what we have."