Guardiola: Solidarity and intensity
After watching his team demolish city rivals Espanyol 5-1 at Cornella tonight, Pep Guardiola expressed that his players had passed their hardest test away from home with flying colours.
Barcelona traditionally struggle in this particular derby away fixture and were held to a goalless draw at Cornella last season, but there was only one winner this time around. Pedro and David Villa both scored twice, with Xavi netting the other as Barça served up another breathtaking exhibition of attacking football against an Espanyol side that came into this match with a perfect home record.
"It's the hardest away game of the season and we passed with distinction," the Barça coach said after the match.
"Nobody was creating chances against them at home and they had only let in two (here), but we were able to deactivate them - it's a great night for us," said Guardiola.
The Catalans' coach was particularly pleased with Pedro, who scored Barcelona's first and third goals and was a threat throughout the match as he switched positions with Lionel Messi in the Catalans' dynamic forward line. "His performance speaks for itself."
"The solidarity and intensity of all of the players up front is very important and it helps the midfielders a lot - this team doesn't cease to surprise me and that leaves me very relaxed about the future."
That future looks extremely bright, with many pundits and experts already talking of this Barcelona side as the best team in history.
"This dynamic depends only on us," Guardiola said. "We have to be able to keep motivating the players, but a time arrives when things come to an end."
"The secret is that the footballers are very good and all of the success they have achieved strengthens their state of mind," said Pep.
Barcelona's players were roundly jeered by the Espanyol faithful, with one exception - Andres Iniesta. Back in July, Iniesta paid tribute to former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque - who died from a heart attack in the summer of 2009 - in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ final, when he peeled off his Spain shirt to reveal a message to his departed friend after scoring the winner against Holland.
That gesture was deeply felt by Espanyol fans at the time and the midfielder was cheered prior to the match - some fans even sported Espanyol shirts with the name Iniesta on the back - before receiving a rapturous standing ovation as he was substituted late on.
"Andres deserves it," Guardiola said. "But I would like to congratulate the fans at Cornella-El Prat for the gesture. We would like Andres to be the reflection of everything that this club represents."
Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino also applauded the fans' gesture. "The fans behaved wonderfully with Andres and that says a lot about Espanyol's support."
And Pochettino claimed not to be too disheartened after losing out to a Barcelona side he said was close to perfection. "We are on a good run and we can't let this defeat break that."
"I am pleased with the attitude of my players, but Barça are practically touching perfection and what we did today was not good enough. They are a great rival, both collectively and individually," said the losing coach," he said.
Barcelona are now five points ahead of Real Madrid - who play Sevilla tomorrow - at the top of the table, while Espanyol drop to fifth after 16 rounds of the championship.