Jules Kounde has warned that Barcelona are ready to deal a brutal blow to at least one European titan in the Champions League after landing in this season’s ‘group of death’.
Drawn to take on Bayern Munich, Inter and Viktoria Plzen in Group C, it is the German and Italian giants that will worry Barcelona the most.
The Catalans begin their campaign against Czech side Plzen on Wednesday, when nothing more than a home win at the Camp Nou will be an acceptable result, given the challenges ahead.
Barcelona, Inter and Bayern all start as trophy contenders, but one or even two of the trio will have been eliminated by the time the World Cup arrives in November.
Kounde, recruited from Sevilla to strengthen Xavi’s defence, is determined that Barcelona will not be among the first to fall.
He said about the European mission that lies ahead: “I play football to enjoy these big games. It is true that it is a very difficult group. But Barça carries a great threat and they have to take us seriously. We believe that we have many.” . options to leave the group.
“To begin with, we have to beat Viktoria no matter what happens, because they are three points equal to those of the day against Bayern”.
Kounde, 23, won the Europa League with Sevilla in the 2019-20 season, but now has bigger aspirations.
He said head coach Xavi wants him “to lead the team, to shout, to talk a lot”, and that the competition for places at the back could bring out the best in the Frenchman.
Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia started in the middle of the weekend’s 3-0 win at Seville, with Koundé at right back.
He prefers the central role, but Gerard Pique hopes to be a factor there too.
Koundé said of the veteran Piqué: “He is a very competitive person. He is very important in the dressing room. He gives advice and his career speaks for itself. He helps us newcomers and those of us who have been here for a long time. He is very important in the squad “.
Barcelona have only lost their first game of a Champions League campaign in one of their previous 23 appearances (W17 D5); however, that defeat came last season when Bayern Munich stomped out with a 3-0 win at the Camp Nou.
Barca have met Plzen in a previous European campaign, scoring a 2-0 home win and a 4-0 away triumph in the 2011-12 Champions League.
Kounde had no doubt that joining Barcelona would be a positive step in his career as he believed the Blaugrana are equipped to challenge on all fronts.
He said: “Watching their second half of last season in LaLiga, one already sensed what this team could be capable of. We have two quality players for each position. I am very happy to be here.”