By 90Min
February 16, 2018

Thomas Vermaelen has lifted the lid on what it's like to be a defender within Barcelona's free-scoring side.

The Belgium international spoke to the Guardian about his career at Camp Nou, and explained that it wasn't all fun and games for those who had to prevent goals from being scored at the other end of the field.

La Blaugrana are known for their vibrant, attacking verve and many football fans feel that defensively minded players have an easier time of things due to the club's tiki-taka possession based philosophy.

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Vermaelen, however, pointed to the contrary and revealed how hard it actually is to play as a centre-back in a team with players like Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.

He said: “People have a bit of a wrong view of defenders in Barcelona because they think: ‘Ah it’s an easy job, they only attack, attack, attack’ but the demands are very high.

“Playing in the other team’s half doesn’t just happen by itself. It’s because we keep them under constant pressure. If you let them come on to you, we will be under pressure so you push up, push up, push up, every time. 

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"That means you have 50 metres at your back and that’s not always easy. Nor is playing out from the back. Sometimes it would just be easier to kick it forward and that’s it, but that’s not our way, and it’s a bit more enjoyable to play."

Veteran defender Vermaelen has had to be patient for a chance to prove his qualities, after a number of injuries restricted his playing time for Barca during the early years of his spell with the Catalan giants.

The 32-year-old did manage to put a decent stretch of starts under his belt this term before sustaining yet another injury in a 5-0 thumping of Real Betis. Vermaelen stated his belief that playing regularly for Barcelona helped him rediscover his confidence on the pitch given the nature of his injury proneness.

He added: “I know my qualities so I know I’m able to play for this club but it was always a matter of being fit and feeling good and that is what happened. 

“I gained confidence and El Clásico was a bit of a present for me because [Javier] Mascherano came back as well, so I wasn’t sure if I was starting. I was very honoured I could play that game.”

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