David Villa has no problem saying that his former teammates at Barcelona are his "rivals" when he represents Atletico Madrid against longtime former side Barcelona as the two get set to lock horns in the Spanish Super Cup.
The defending Liga champion takes on Villa's Rojiblancos for the first piece of Spanish silverware this season on Wednesday, and Villa, who moved from Camp Nou to Estadio Vicente Calderon this summer, insists he will put all friendship aside when he faces his former teammates.
“I have many friends and fond memories of my three years there,” Villa told reporters. “But when we start the game, they are my rivals.
“Hopefully I can help my team. I have always celebrated my goals. Out of respect, however, the exuberance of the celebration is different if you face an opponent that you love.”
Villa acknowledges that Gerardo Martino's side will be the heavy favorite for the clash, especially following its resounding 7-0 win over Levante on Sunday, but the 31-year-old remains determined to upset the odds.
“We have many chances to win, but for that we have to do everything perfect," Villa said. “We can make no mistakes: Defend very well, try to keep the ball away from them as long as possible, because we know that they suffer when they lose the ball, and then take our opportunities to hurt them in attack.
“If you have to look for a favorite, it is Barcelona. We have to fight against that. When the match starts, we all have the same chance to win.
“Just look at the statistics of recent years and the way they have started the league. We must seek our options and how we can hurt them. Lifting this title is very important to us.”