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07.10.2007 20:16

Rijkaard: "We can still grow further"

Vanessa Forns

Frank Rijkaard was delighted to have beaten an Atlético de Madrid side that traditionally has done well at Camp Nou, but stated that he feels that there is still room for improvement.

The victory over Los Colchoneros extended Barça's run of victories to six and the coach was happy. "We have beaten a team that historically has made us suffer," he said. "But we can still player better and grow further. I want to congratulate the side because they have played well and carried out their jobs."

Confidence boost

Rijkaard believes that Barça began the game slightly on the back foot and was also slightly disappointed by the team's failure to maintain their rhythm after the break. "We started quite nervously, but the first goal gave us confidence and speed. In the second half we became a little imprecise and the team was not always at the highest level as well as looking a bit tired because of the effort required to take the advantage."

Despite that, the Barça boss stated that "the team played well and deserved to win". He continued: "The most important thing was to maintain our organisation and we did that, but there is still room for improvement."

Praise for the players

After analysing where he sees things to be built on, Rijkaard picked out individuals for special praise. "I am very pleased for Ronaldinho as he had a great game, taking part in everything and making good passes," he said. Reflecting on Messi's display he added: "He is a key player, capable of doing big things. It is a pleasure to see him on the pitch. He is not just in a good run of form; that is how he plays." The trainer also had words for Víctor Valdés after another strong performance from the keeper. "In every game he shows how important he is with great saves. He is ready to play for any national team."

Andrés Iniesta enjoyed another good game as an emergency defensive midfielder and Rijkaard was pleased. "He has the capacity to keep the ball and to maintain his position," he explained. "Xavi can then go in search of the ball."
Rijkaard: “We can still grow further“
Laporta: "We have played intelligently"
Barça president Joan Laporta was also pleased with the comfortable victory against Atlético de Madrid and said that he felt the team had played "intelligently". "We won with authority and we have known how to neutralise the various threats that they posed," he said. Laporta then said that he had been impressed by the squad's ability to continue to impress despite the number of injuries suffered this term. "It is because we have a great squad and a great coach who knows how to find solutions at times of adversity."

The Blaugrana played the last few minutes of the game with no less than eight homegrown players on the pitch. "It is proving that the policy of using the youth ranks is important," Laporta explained. "It a cause of great satisfaction and we have to work to bring more players through on a regular basis." The Barça president then stated that he thinks that the forthcoming international break will be good for the squad. "This stoppage will help those recovering from injuries," he continued. "As for those that are going away, we hope that they give everything they have to for their national teams, but always remember that they need to return here to play. The club needs them."

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