Vilanova: Pep's reign is unrepeatable
The Catalan giants continued their amazing start to 2012/13, with Lionel Messi's 83rd and 84th goals of the calendar year helping them move on to 40 points from 14 games.
"I'm very happy to be able to secure this record, but even more so by the performance of the players, how they played the game," said Vilanova, whose side have only dropped points once this season, in the 2-2 draw with arch-rivals Real Madrid.
"It's fine to get these wins. We're happy, but we're more proud that today, in winning 5-1, we kept pushing, trying to press. If we continue to be strong, I'm sure we will win more games and surely will continue fighting for titles.
"Athletic play in a totally different way to other teams. They make it very difficult. Though the result is emphatic, it was not an easy game."
"Of course there are things to improve, but the important thing is that we want to win and we have the ability to work hard. It is clear that we can lose games, but working hard makes it much harder to lose."
Vilanova, who stepped up from being Pep Guardiola's assistant in the summer, when the former Spain midfielder resigned after winning 14 titles during his four years at the helm, felt it was too soon to compare his reign with his predecessor's.
"Those four years are unrepeatable in everything that was done, the titles that were won, and the evolution of the system of play," he said. " I feel very proud. It is a very short time since then. One must evaluate further on."
Bielsa salutes Barça, Messi closes in on Muller
Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa acknowledged the Barcelona team had adapted to the new regime flawlessly. "They have the same power, the same style, the same sense of constant balance from any ball in any sector of the field," the Argentinian said.
And Bielsa admitted his side had been second best this evening. "We did not recover the ball well enough, and were not able to build attacks quickly without losing possession," he said. "But the big difference was that our attacks never thrived, and every time we lost the ball it led to a Barcelona attack."
Two goals in three minutes - from Gerard Pique and a deflected Messi effort - midway through the opening 45 minutes put Barça firmly in the ascendancy, and Adriano added a superb third in first-half stoppage time.
Cesc Fabregas notched a neat fourth soon after the break and, after Ibai Gomez had pulled a goal back with Athletic's first noteworthy attack of the match, Messi rounded things off with a brilliant fifth goal.
The Argentina No10's brace left him needing just one more goal to equal Gerd Muller's record of 85 in a calendar year, set in 1972.