Champions League: Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Published 05/04/2011 | 12:46
Barcelona head into tomorrow's Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk in buoyant mood, although striker David Villa admits to concern over his recent lack of goals at club level.
Barca now boast an eight-point advantage over Real Madrid at the Primera Division summit with only eight games remaining after Pep Guardiola's men took full advantage of Madrid's shock home defeat to Sporting Gijon by beating third-placed Villarreal 1-0.
Gerard Pique was Barca's match-winner in that game as Villa again failed to end his goalscoring drought for the Catalan giants.
Although he recently became Spain's record goalscorer with a brace against the Czech Republic, Villa has not found the back of the net in his last six outings for Barca - having previously struck in four successive matches and notched 21 goals for the club since his big-money summer move from Valencia.
Villa said: "Whenever you don't score you get a little worried, but what I have to do is work hard in training and in games and be calm.
"You have hardly any time to decide what to do (in front of goal), and sometimes you decide well, and other times you make a bad choice and don't score.
"A goal will arrive and if I don't score a team-mate will."
Despite Villa's barren spell, Barca have barely broken stride, winning seven and drawing the other of their last eight games to continue their bid for a second treble in three seasons.
It is looking especially good in La Liga, but Villa said: "To have an eight-point lead with eight games left is a considerable difference, but we must not fall into the error of thinking we are champions. Right now only we can lose the league."
Barca are also in the final of the Copa del Rey, where they face Real Madrid later this month, while tomorrow they will hope to further boost their hopes of Champions League success when they host Shakhtar in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
Villa, who has never reached the semi-finals before, said: "When you come into a game after losing or drawing, everyone knows you have to put it behind you and concentrate on the next match, but the same thing holds true if you've just won.
"We are playing at home, in front of our fans, and we need a good result so as not to suffer too much in the return leg."
Shakhtar are underdogs against the 2006 and 2009 European champions, but the Ukrainian outfit know what it is like to win at the Nou Camp.
They won 3-2 in the Catalan city in 2008 - albeit against a much-changed home side - while Shakhtar also pushed Barca all the way in the final of the 2009 UEFA Super Cup before going down to a Pedro Rodríguez goal in the 115th minute.
Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna heaped praise on Barca, but warned Guardiola's men that his side have nothing to lose heading into tomorrow's game.
He said in www.sport.es: "We are facing an immense team, they are the best team in the world and in my view I think they are the best football team in history.
"We've already achieved our goal of being among the best eight teams in Europe. It's a great success, and now we feel no pressure, we're going to go out on the pitch and play football.
"It will be tough, but I can promise our fans that we are going to give it everything. We're going to try and get a good result there because we know that it's very difficult for any team to beat us at the Donbass Arena."
Srna was on the mark as Shakhtar warmed up for tomorrow's game with a 3-1 win at Illychivets Mariupol on Friday, leaving Mircea Lucescu's side 12 points clear at the top of the table.
Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho made his return in that match after seven months out injured.