Dani Alves has hit out at local media coverage which he says is clearly biased against his team Barcelona.
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Barca currently sit second in La Liga just a point off the top, have reached the Copa del Rey final, and made the quarterfinals of the Champions League. But Gerardo Martino's side have still suffered plenty of media criticism this season, with some outlets in Madrid always on the lookout for signs that the all-conquering side of recent seasons is fading away.
The Brazilian full-back told Mundo Deportivo that the over-the-top reaction to his side’s 1-0 defeat at Real Valladolid on March 8 was an example of how people jumped to write him and his teammates off.
“People have short memories, five years ago it was all chaos here,” Alves said. “A few weeks ago we lost a game, which can happen, and it seemed the end of the world. But we turned that around, and are still fighting in all competitions. Some people want this cycle to end.”
Clearly enjoying having the chance to get one back at Barca’s critics, Alves lamented a lack of balance in the Spanish media.
“Whenever Barca win it is due to the referees, whenever Barca lose it is the end of an era,” he said. “There is little balance in these things. Barca’s arguments in this are in our way of thinking, the way we work, and our great players.”
The 30-year-old said that when he read the sports papers and watched football shows on TV, most of the criticism came from people who did not understand the game properly and just wanted to support Real Madrid’s cause.
“These people have lots of opinions about football, but they know very little about football,” Alves said. “That goes for most journalists who have no practical experience of the game. There are lots of people who just ‘wear a jersey’, who are not objective, who are really Madridistas but do not want to say so.”
Alves was speaking at the official pregame news conference ahead of Barca’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Atletico’s top-scorer Diego Costa is a doubt for that game after leaving training on Tuesday evening with a reported knee problem, however he is still expected to start the game.
Costa had earlier on Tuesday told the Atletico club website that his side would need to be at their most organised to beat Barca.
“Barcelona is Barcelona, they are a team who for a long time and for many years have been showing that they are one of the best in the world,” Costa said. “We know that to win we need to play really well, be very compact and tight together. Because with the smallest gap they can create a goalscoring chance.”
The Brazil-born Spain international said he and his teammates were confident that they could progress in the tie.
“Atletico are in their best moment of the season,” Costa said. “We are very excited about playing this game. We are where we are because of the team that we are, because we all run, each player gives the best they can. In a game like this we need to be even more a team and be together. Because if we are a team then we have a big chance.”
Meanwhile, Atletico midfielder Tiago told AS that his team’s identity as little guys making the best of their scarce resources was attractive to neutrals who had suffered during Spain’s ongoing economic crisis.
“Society is living through a period of crisis and we are fighting for La Liga and the Champions League against huge clubs,” Tiago said. “It is a difficult era, people identify with us, that we fight against many adversities. From there comes the similarity with Robin Hood.”