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Big hearts & team spirit

Martinez: We’ll fight till we drop

Javi Martínez did a great job of answering reporters’ questions in German on Monday, “but my German’s finished for today,” the Spaniard grinned after a good 15 minutes. The questions centred on his comeback – and on the upcoming Champions League trip to Barcelona. Martínez concentrated hard on his answers, looked annoyed when a particular word failed to come, and breathed a big sigh of relief once the session was over. The journalists laughed heartily, because Javi’s upbeat demeanour is infectious.

The 26-year-old has every reason to be cheerful at present. He returned to competitive action for the first time in eight-and-a-half months in Saturday’s Bundesliga trip to Leverkusen. “It was a test,” he explained on Monday, “I played for 60 minutes and there was no reaction from my knee. I feel quick and strong.” The defender believes he could yet feature in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona: “I’m ready to help the team.”

Mutual help and support will be the key to success at Camp Nou, stated Jérôme Boateng, especially as FCB attempt to neutralise the fearsome front three of Neymar, Suarez and Messi. “We face an exceptional forward line and we’ll have to tackle them as a team,” the centre-back said, “it’s important we defend together and attack together.”

‘We’re FC Bayern!'

Any lapse or slip will be immediately punished, Boateng warned. “It’s not just the strikers. The whole Barcelona team is world-class.” Despite the toughness of the task and Bayern’s well-documented injury problems, the World Cup winner insisted the Reds would travel to Catalonia with plenty of confidence: “We know it’ll be hard at Camp Nou, but we’re FC Bayern. We’ll go there looking for a decent result. We’re determined to make the final!”

Martínez reckoned the odds are “fifty-fifty” prior to the meeting with the La Liga leaders. “They’re one of the best teams in the world, and they’re currently in their best form of the season,” Javi noted, recalling with pleasure Bayern’s 3-0 win at Camp Nou in the semis two years ago. “We won a lot of tackles,” he said. That could again be a key factor on Wednesday

Martínez has returned to the fray at exactly the right time for the Barça double-header, although whether he plays is of course down to Pep Guardiola: “We have big hearts and a target. We aim to reach it with all our heart, our thoughts, and our heads. We’ll fight till we drop,” the Spaniard declared.

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