Guardiola: “Playing as well as that is really difficult”.
First team manager Pep Guardiola was delighted with his players’ performance against Panathinaikos. However, he believes that they have to keep on improving over the next few matches.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Pep Guardiola could not hide his delight at his
team’s sensational victory in the Champions League on Tuesday night: “Playing as well
as we did today is really difficult. That’s the way to do it. We produced a fine performance
and created a good impression. And I’m pleased to say that what we did today we have done
many times before. Maybe people will say that we weren’t up against a top class team but
Panathinaikos is the Greek champion and played with a ten-man defence”.
A big improvement
Comparisons with the shock defeat against Hercules were inevitable:
“The other day we didn’t play as well. We lacked something – movement down the
wings. We have to try and attack better than on Saturday. Today we moved the ball around and
penetrated really well. Now we’re in form. On Saturday we weren’t. When one or two
players don’t make certain moves everything stalls a bit”.
Total faith in his players
Guardiola also took the opportunity to restate his total confidence in the players at his
disposal: “I don’t know if we can aspire to win titles but the players don’t have
to prove anything. They have permission to play badly. Sometimes you lose in sport – we have
this right. Our opponents are well prepared, they’re good, and against a ten-man defence
it’s difficult. I was, and I am, proud of them”.
However, Guardiola saved his greatest praise for Leo Messi: “He’s quite simply
the best player in the world by a huge margin. He’s very demanding of himself and he’s
got a simple pleasure in playing and winning. The aim is to make him comfortable so that he can
display all his talent”. But Guardiola also emphasized the importance of the collective:
“We won’t win anything with just eleven players. We have to do it between all of
Despite Tuesday night’s wonderful display, Guardiola believes the team can still get
better: “We haven’t reached our ceiling yet. We still have a bit to go and we will try
and up our game”. As regards next Sunday’s game away to Atletico Madrid, the manager is
welcoming the challenge of taking on the current league leaders. “The game in the Calderon is
a good test. We’ll be playing against one of the best teams in Europe and in the world.
We’ll try and keep on improving”.