04 April 2012

Guardiola: “We fully deserved to go through"

The Barça manager considers that reaching the Champions League semifinals five times on the trot shows “the hard work put in by the team”.

“We played against a team that have a lot of importance and history. We’ve earned everything that we’ve achieved”.

Josep Guardiola vigorously defended FC Barcelona’s passage to the semifinals of the Champions League. The Barça manager said that in the quarterfinal tie against Milan that “we fully deserved to go through.” He also disagreed with those that said that Barça should not be in the next round because the team scored two of their three goals from penalties. “They were penalties. We didn’t complain in the away leg (where Alexis was hauled down in the box), and we won’t complain now,” said Guardiola. He added that “grabbing players in the area should be penalized and they are penalties. On television, it’s a penalty.”

Besides the two penalties awarded to Barça, Guardiola said that “they only shot on goal three times, we shot 21 times. We had a lot of goalscoring chances and we did it with a three and four-man defence. We played against a team that have a lot of importance and history. We’ve earned everything we’ve achieved, just like we earned it there [Milan].”

This will be FC Barcelona’s fifth consecutive semifinal in the Champions League, the fourth with Guardiola on the bench. The manager believes that this feat shows “the power of the Club. It’s an achievement to maintain this level.” Also, that behind Barça’s consistency is “a lot of hard work,” no one has gifted the team anything.

The manager was also proud that nine La Masia players featured in Barça’s starting line-up. He said that they are “essence [of the Club] and heart [of the team].”

Guardiola explained why he didn’t play Alexis and instead opted for Cuenca and Alves. “We needed a player that would run down the wing and I decided to play Alves seeing that, along with Adriano, they are the only ones that allow me to go from a four-man defence to a three-man defence.” On Isaac Cuenca, he said that he “needed a very specific type of player” in tonight’s match.

He also talked about Andrés Iniesta, “he’s a player that has more goals than his stats reflect. He does a lot of things really well and he’s a player that respects the decisions of his manager. He’s fantastic.”

Barça will play in the Champions League semifinal against the winner of the Benfica - Chelsea playoff. Even though the English side have the advantage in the tie, seeing that they will play in Stamford Bridge with a 0-1 result from the away leg, Guardiola isn’t convinced that Chelsea will be his team’s next rival. “We have to be prudent because after watching the first game, Benfica created a lot of chances. Chelsea have a very good result but in the Champions League everything is difficult.” He did, however, analyse both teams. On the English side he said that “the important players will respond in the final phase [of the competition]. However, Benfica have done a great job these past couple of seasons. They are both tough rivals and we’ll have to prepare well for the semifinals in order to get to Munich.”(via FCBarcelona.com)