Pep Guardiola reflected on FC Barcelona's Champions League group stage campaign and admitted that he was pleased with the way his team has played and that they had finished on top of "a very hard group".
Barça had already clinched top spot before the last game of the first phase and they concluded in
style with a 2-0 triumph on Tuesday evening with goals from Anreu Fontàs and Víctor Vázquez. The
chance to field a number of youngsters and shadow players pleased the coach. "I am pleased by the
way that everyone has played and the spirit that they have shown," Guardiola said.
When the Blaugrana were drawn in their group Guardiola felt that it
would be a tough test given that all the other sides came from northern Europe. "They are always
difficult because they are at the top," he continued. "I am delighted with how things went in the
group. We finished undefeated for the first time in three years and I think the team deserves a
great deal of merit."
On the youth starlets that stepped up and performed at the highest level Guardiola
was content. "They played well," he commented. "They have a great road ahead of them. The game was
good to see how they would react and they did so with great seriousness. They all played at a very
Vázquez and Fontàs
Vázquez came on early as a substitute and scored and that pleased the
trainer. "I am happy for them all, but especially for Víctor," he said. After all his injuries the
youngster has bounced back and Guardiola was particularly pleased. "He deserves his chance," he
Fontàs netted the first goal and the coach stated: "He had an extraordinary second half and
is a very intelligent player."
The draw for the next round of the Champions League takes place on December 17 and Guardiola
has no preference as to which team Barça are drawn against. "Now they are all strong," he said.
"When you pass the group stage there are no easy sides."
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Ballon d’Or praise
Josep Maria Bartomeu, the FC Barcelona vice president for the area of sport, expressed his
happiness at the club seeing Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández and Lionel Messi being the three
finalists for the Ballon d'Or prize. "It is a reward for all the hardwork," he said, reflecting on
the trio's rise through the Camp Nou youth ranks. "We have a new responsibility now and that is to
continue to improve La Masia."