Keita: "This squad is unusually humble"
Seydou Keita has spoken to Barça TV about why he thinks this team has been so successful, about the difficult times regarding Abidal’s illness and about the run in to the end of a season where the squad is still hoping to win everything.
Barcelona (FCB).- Seydou Keita believes football has to be considered a team game and after three years he is more aware than ever of how lucky he is to be able to play for a club like FC Barcelona.
How is the squad feeling as we approach the end of the season?
"Apart from Puyol and Abidal, we are in perfect condition at a crucial moment. We have the chance to win three titles and have a good lead on Real Madrid that we shall attempt to maintain or even stretch."
Is the international break a good moment to disconnect?
"Yes, sometimes it\u2019s nice to stop and come back stronger. But we can\u2019t stop completely because the most important part of the season is still to come. We can disconnect a bit but we have to work harder because the most important time is now arriving."
Is the word \u2018treble\u2019 a taboo? Would you be happy enough with two titles?
"No, we are footballers and our ambition is to win everything, but that\u2019s easier said than done as we found out the first year. Now we have to do it again but there are lots of games still to go. The League is a season-long task, and the best team always wins, but the Cup and Champions League are won by the little things. But I have to say we are working hard, and with a little luck we can do big things."
You are the thirteenth player in the ranking of minutes played this season. That\u2019s not as much as you played before. Is it enough for you?
"I am as ambitious as anyone and I want to play as much as I can, but I know I\u2019m playing for the best team in the world. There are more than 11 players in a football team, and if the boss says I\u2019m just playing 15 minutes, then I have to do the best I can. Sometimes we footballers can be a bit selfish, but I try to help my team-mates whether I play or not. I am there to help because if we end up winning, then everybody is happy."
Has Guardiola spoken to you?
"I have always said that I don\u2019t like speaking to coaches and I made that clear to Pep at the start of the first season. I don\u2019t see any reason to speak because I just want to play like any player and I know it\u2019s not an easy job for the coach. Other players are playing more because they\u2019re playing better. I have to accept that and work hard to make sure I\u2019m in the right condition for when the boss does send me on. I believe in God and I know that I am in a more difficult situation than last season, but I\u2019m still working and there are no problems. There is nothing to say to the manager because whatever changes he has made, the team is still winning.\u201D
What do you think about Alves renewing?
"It is very important news for us because he\u2019s a very good player and a great colleague. Dani is a player who encourages the squad by playing music, dancing, he\u2019s a great lad."
Do you think there were any worries during the process?
"No, no (laughs). Dani never changes, he\u2019s always cheerful."
Is it important to decide on these things to make the squad calm?
"Yes, it\u2019s important for him and the team. This is the decisive period and it is important for everybody to have a cool head at times like these.\u201D
What would you think about playing Madrid four times? Would you rather not play them that much?
"Well, we both have two games before that, so let\u2019s see what happens. For now, it\u2019s more important to worry about the first game ahead of us and take things as they come. There will be time later to think about Madrid. Although we have won the last clásicos, it won\u2019t be easy to play them."
Have Madrid improved as the season has come on, and do you think they\u2019ll play different in the next games?
"The 5-0 was the nicest game of the season for everybody, but I am sure Madrid will have changed because a result like that is never easy to accept. They\u2019ll be tough games. But I don\u2019t like talking about opponents, because our objective for now is to get six points from our next two games."
Is it more dangerous to play a Champions League quarter final against Shakhtar than a team with more pedigree in the competition?
"They\u2019re a very difficult opponent. I still remember Monaco where we won in the last minute. They have a lot of Brazilians and it won\u2019t be easy, but Barça always play to win."
You\u2019ll be meeting up with Chygrynskiy again. Do you think people were unfair to him?
"Dima is a great person and a great player, but it isn\u2019t easy to play for Barcelona. The best players in the world are here and he didn\u2019t have time to adapt to the language or style. But he\u2019s a very good player."
You haven\u2019t been scoring much in recent games. Why\u2019s that?
"You get good and bad times in football. You can\u2019t go a whole season winning three or four nil. When the difficult times come, you just have to do all you can to make sure you keep winning. Eventually things will change and the ball will start going in more easily."
You don\u2019t like speaking about referees, but there are reasons to do so every week. Do you think that the kind of messages from opponents end up having an effect?
"No, when you\u2019re top, the teams below you do all they can do disconcert you. We have no problem with that. We know referees are only human and can make mistakes. It doesn\u2019t matter, we know it is us who get results, and as long as we do what the coach tells us, we have every chance of winning."
You are very close to Abidal. How is he?
"Fine. He and his family are going through difficult times but he\u2019s as happy as ever. I was with him on the day of the operation and an hour before he went into the theatre he was making the same jokes as he always does. He\u2019s an exceptional person, but I\u2019m sure it\u2019s not easy for him and so we and the fans are all here to help him."
His positive attitude has helped you do deal with his illness. Has such sad news actually been a motivator?
"There\u2019s no doubt about that. The day he found out he phoned me at eleven in the evening and told me he had a problem. I said it sounded impossible. I was sad but he was fine. Then I said, look, if Eric\u2019s OK, then I need to be OK as well and give him my support. It\u2019s not good for him if I have my head down, and the same is true of the rest of the squad. We are all sad, but the day he came to see us, we told each other that we had to be happy and give all our support to a fantastic person."
Is it at times like this that you really feel the friendship and union in the squad?
\u201CLook, I have played for lots of teams but the humility of this squad is completely unusual. I\u2019m 31 years old and I can tell you that the humility of these players is incredible. For example, I remember the first year I was here, Juan Carlos Unzué\u2019s father died and the whole team went to Navarra. I have never witnessed anything like that and it meant a lot. In all sections of the club there is remarkable humility."
How about Puyol? Do you think he can be back before the end of the season?
"We hope so because he\u2019s an important player for the team. Look, I don\u2019t like speaking to the media, but when I do, I only know how to say the truth and I can assure you he\u2019s a wonderful man. He is working hard with the physios and we hope he\u2019s back to help us soon."