Alves: Barça must return to winning ways
© Getty Images

Brazil defender Dani Alves said holders Barcelona need to win at Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow in the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 to restore their winning habit.

Pep Guardiola's side find themselves ten points behind bitter rivals Real Madrid in La Liga after their shock 3-2 defeat at Osasuna on Saturday and face an uphill challenge to repeat last season's Spanish league success.

Barcelona won their Champions League group at a canter, but find themselves second in the Spanish league and Alves says a good performance at Leverkusen can help the confidence flow as they look to bridge the domestic gap with Real.

"We are realistic, ten points is of course a big distance to bridge, but we have to keep believing in ourselves and fighting, there is no other alternative," said the 28-year-old. "We need a win here, we have to concentrate on ourselves.

"We have an enormous desire to keep winning, it's what we are used to," he added. "The mood in the team is unusual, because we aren't used to being in this situation, but we have to stay strong. We have to see that we have to keep working and hopefully things will come good at the end."

We have to concentrate on ourselves. 
Barcelona's Dani Alves

Guardiola insists he is only concerned about leaving Germany with a good result with the return leg in Spain on 7 March. Leverkusen won all of three of their group stage home games, including a last-gasp 2-1 win over Chelsea in November, something which has not escaped the Barcelona boss.

"This is a big motivation, the last 16 of the Champions League is a great thing for us," said the 41-year-old. "Bayer Leverkusen and their quality is my biggest concern, we have seen how good they were in the group stages.

"They can counter-attack well and they have good players like [striker Stefan] Kiessling and behind their forwards, they have good attackers who can control the game well," the boss went on.  "We need to play well, which is a requirement at this stage, we need a good result for the return leg. We have to show that we want to fight, there is no game as important as the next."

No team has ever successfully defended the Champions League title, AC Milan were the last team to claim back-to-back European Cup titles in 1989 and 1990 before the tournament changed name and structure in 1992.

Guardiola says it will be no disgrace if his team fails to win the title in this year's final at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena on 19 May. "Since Milan did it years ago, nobody else has repeated that," he said. "That shows it is difficult to do, but I don't think it shows how strong we are if we don't win the Champions League.

"These guys have shown many, many times how good they are and they are competing at the highest level," he said.  "It will be hard to get the points back in the Spanish league, but we are going to try and do it, step by step."