'I play football for these big games' – Kounde relishing Barcelona's Champions League mission

·2-min read

Jules Kounde warned Barcelona are ready to strike a brutal blow to at least one European titan in the Champions League after landing in this season's 'group of death'.

Drawn to face Bayern Munich, Inter and Viktoria Plzen in Group C, it is the German and Italian giants that Barcelona will be most worried about.

The Catalans start their campaign against Czech side Plzen on Wednesday, when nothing but a home victory at Camp Nou will be an acceptable result, given the challenges to come.

Barcelona, Inter and Bayern all begin as trophy hopefuls, but one or even two of the trio will have been eliminated by the time the World Cup comes around in November.

Kounde, recruited from Sevilla to fortify Xavi's defence, is determined Barcelona will not be among the early fallers.

He said of the European mission that lies ahead: "I play football to enjoy these big matches. It is true that it is a very difficult group. But Barca carry a big threat and they have to take us seriously. We think we have many options to get out of the group.

"To begin with, we have to beat Viktoria no matter what, because they are three points equal to the matchday against Bayern."

Kounde, 23, was a Europa League winner with Sevilla in the 2019-20 season but has higher aspirations now.

He said head coach Xavi wants him "to lead the team, to shout, to talk a lot", and competition for places at the back could bring the best out of the Frenchman.

Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia started in the centre in the 3-0 weekend win at Sevilla, with Kounde at right-back.

He prefers the central role, but Gerard Pique will also hope to be a factor there.

Kounde said of veteran Pique: "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 who have been here for a long time. He's very important in the squad."

Barcelona have only lost their opening game of a Champions League campaign in one of their previous 23 appearances (W17 D5); however, that defeat did come last term when Bayern Munich stomped to a 3-0 Camp Nou victory.

Barca have tackled Plzen in one previous European campaign, scoring a 2-0 win at home and 4-0 success on the road in the 2011-12 Champions League.

Kounde had no doubt joining Barcelona would be a positive step in his career, believing the Blaugrana are equipped to challenge on all front.

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 so happy to be here."