INIESTA BACKS BARCELONA FOR EUROPEAN GLORY

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Andres Iniesta is backing Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona to win the Champions League in 2019.

He believes Barcelona have got the squad to secure European glory this season but admits they will face stiff competition.

Barca eased into the knockout stages of the Champions League after amassing 14 points from their six group matches and finishing top of the group.

They face Lyon in the first knockout round and will hope to add to their five previous European Championships. The most recent in 2015.

“I always think they can [win the Champions League],” he told Sport.

“They’re ambitious and with aspirations to win everything.

“After that, there are moments when things can go better or worse.

“This team deserves more Champions Leagues than they have won. I hope this season they take the step forward which has been lacking in recent years.”

But the midfield legend admits going all the way to the final in Madrid won’t be easy and expects Manchester City and PSG to push the Spanish champions close.

“It’s difficult to think that someday they [City and PSG] won’t come close in the Champions League,” he added.

“The teams they have, their squads, the investments, the coaches… they should be fighting for the trophy.

“I also want to add Liverpool, who are looking good this year.

“The problem with the Champions League is that it’s a really tough tournament. One bad day can knock you out.”

Iniesta, who has been part of four Barcelona teams to have conquered Europe left Barca at the end of the 2017-18 season to ply his trade in Japan with Vissel Kobe and, despite enjoying life in J1 League, he admits part of him misses turning out at Camp Nou.

“I would love to be at Barca still if my body and head would allow it,” he said.

“I won’t find anything to match this football club, this stadium, these team-mates.

“But I took another path and I am enjoying it. I am excited about what’s to come and hope that this stage in my career will be important and special.”

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