Gündogan insists Barcelona are united after Araújo criticism

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Ilkay Gündogan has told ESPN that Barcelona are aligned in their pursuit of success ahead of El Clásico against Real Madrid on Sunday amid the fallout to his perceived criticism of Ronald Araújo after Tuesday's Champions League exit.

Gündogan was frustrated with Araújo's 29th minute red card in Barça's 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the return leg of the quarterfinal tie, saying it led to his team's demise.

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Araújo declined to respond to his teammates comments on Thursday, but the midfielder presented a united front on Friday and said that everyone wants the best for the club.

"The mood is good," the Germany international told ESPN. "The training session was good that we finished just now. We are looking ahead.

"I think that is how the most successful teams develop and improve, by communicating, by looking into each others' eyes and speaking for the benefit of every single person.

"But also, at the end of the day, the ultimate target is for the benefit of the club. We are all here to make the club better, to bring the club in the best possible situation and to be successful.

"From my first day here, everyone is aligned with that. Of course, there are sometimes situations where you have to clear things [up], but the intention from every single person in this club is very genuine towards the success of this amazing club."

The midweek defeat to PSG means LaLiga is now Barça's only hope of silverware this season. With seven games to go, they are eight points behind leaders Madrid and anything but a win at the Bernabéu this weekend will likely end their title hopes.

"At this moment of time, if you look at Madrid's recent form, especially in the league, it feels like we need to go there and win and close the gap to five to still have a realistic chance to compete until the end," Gündogan said.

Gündogan, who joined as a free agent from Manchester City last summer, has a career-high 11 assists this season and, despite the possibility of a trophy-less campaign, he believes Barça will take a lot from this year.

"I feel very good in the team but I also feel like I can do even better," he said. "We can also do better as a team. I feel like we have struggled with a lot of difficulties, obviously losing a lot of players to injuries, which changes the balance in the team.

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"But I think everyone did a huge a job so far to [stay] for so long in the difficult Champions League competition, to be second [in LaLiga] and still try to compete until the end. I would not say it's a disappointing season to be honest because it's always [about] overcoming difficulties and that's how you grow.

"If you don't make these kind of experiences, if you don't deal with difficulties in your career or throughout the season, then there is not much potential to evolve. We are on the right way.

"Obviously we still have the season to finish and the target now is to get as many points as possible to see how the season will turn around at the end.

"Even though it's very frustrating to be knocked out [of Europe] in such a style, I still really believe that this can be a big push, especially in the Champions League, and a big learning effect for next season.

"I played more than 10, 11 or 12 Champions Leagues in my career and just won it once. And I had so many difficulties throughout those Champions League campaigns, so many defeats with all my teams.

"So you learn from every single one and at one point you get to know what it takes to have the best possible chances to go far and still some aspects of the game are decided by just little details that can be also luck sometimes. It is something we have to overcome as a team to get better.

"Defeats are part of the game. One thing is to learn from it and to use as motivation to do better next time. The next big challenge and opportunity is just around the corner on Sunday."

Barça lost the first El Clásico of the season 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium in October after Gündogan had opened the scoring. They were also beaten by Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final in January.

However, Gündogan feels Barça, who were 13 games unbeaten before losing to PSG on Tuesday, have grown throughout the season.

"I think [we have evolved]," he said.

"If you look at the last few months, the way we have played, the way we have got results. It has not always [been] in easy circumstances, but the way we overcame those difficulties as a team, we made not just one step ahead further down the line, but multiple.

"There is no reason now because of one defeat you start to overcomplicate things. It's time to keep calm, to focus on your abilities, to focus on the strengths of the team and to trust each other and move forward in the same way as we have been dealing with the last few weeks."