Barcelona defender Lucas Digne has explained that there is no chance to relax as a player at Camp Nou as the club’s philosophy demands the highest standards at all times.
Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with Sporting CP may appear to be a dead rubber as the Catalans have already secured top spot in Group D, but there remains pressure on them to perform and extend what has been a strong start to the season both at home and abroad.
“We want to win all competitions. It is in the DNA of the club and the players that we enter the pitch to win every game,” Digne told Goal.
“The season has been close to perfect so far. We lead La Liga with the best stats for both attack and defence, and we have already won the Champions League group before playing the last match.
“And we are undefeated in both tournaments. It is definitely a good start to the season.”
Barca might have lost Neymar in the summer to Paris Saint-Germain and saw head coach Luis Enrique replaced by Ernesto Valverde, but the level of success the club has enjoyed comes naturally to the France international left-back.
“It is not a surprise,” the 24-year-old said, reflecting upon the club's quick start after a second-place finish in La Liga last term. “Last season the numbers proved that - we had both a better attack and defence than our rivals Real Madrid, and then winning the title it is down to small differences - maybe even decided in a single game during the season - a ball that passed the line but was not given as a goal - or something like that.”
Digne has played eight times this season as Valverde has often opted to stick by a tried and trusted formula, but the former PSG defender has impressed when given the chance, notably scoring against Olympiacos at home in the Champions League and helping his side keep a clean sheet against Juventus later in the same competition.
He is likely to be given the responsibility of starting in midweek and wants to make the most of it as the team seek to bounce back from a weekend draw in La Liga.
“The last game of the group is about continuing the winning streak,” he affirmed. “Sometimes you only get one point because nobody can win every single game in a long season. But that is not a problem.
“We were disappointed to draw 2-2 against Celta, but most of our rivals at the top of La Liga lost points as well, and that is football.
“And when we went to Juventus and had a draw there, it was a good performance and a perfect result because it secured the top spot for us in our Champions League group and an early qualification for the knockout phase.
“I had a good chance to score against Juve, but scoring in two Champions League appearances in a row would maybe have been a bit too much for me as a defender!”
Even playing in the Copa del Rey, in which Barca have already ousted Real Murcia, is important for him.
“Of course, a club like Barcelona want to win the biggest trophies, but the Copa del Rey also counts,” he added. “Winning trophies together is important, because you get a lot stronger as a team, when you win together.”
A long-term aim for Digne is to play in the World Cup with France in Russia next season, especially having been involved in the squad that won the matches to push them there.
“The World Cup is the biggest stage to represent your country, so it felt great to qualify with the two wins against Bulgaria and Belarus and winning our group,” he said. “We went into the last two games to be super professional, work hard and only focus on getting the wins that we needed. And we had a great night at Stade de France with a superb atmosphere when celebrating with the crowd after the last win.
“We have a super squad with a lot of potential and ambitions, and it was a bit funny for me in these games to realise that I was suddenly one of the more experienced players, having played 20 times now for my country - but still only being 24.
“The World Cup draw was fine for us. It is true that we could have had an even more difficult group, but everything will be decided on the pitch in Russia next summer - and not by the draw on paper. We respect all our opponents: Denmark, Peru and Australia - but we fear no-one.”