Pique: We can't match Pep's Barcelona
Gerard Pique says it is probably impossible that Barcelona will again match the heights achieved under former coach Pep Guardiola, while stressing the current side are playing very well under Gerardo Martino and still have room for improvement.
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Pique was a key player as Barca under Guardiola swept all before them in 2009, winning six trophies in a year and often playing breathtaking attacking football. Happy memories of that time remain at the Camp Nou, with fans and pundits using that success as a yardstick against which its current side and coach Martino are coming up short.
The centre-half, who scored an unfortunate own goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League group win over Milan, told El Larguero afterwards that such comparisons were not really fair, as ‘the year of the six trophies’ was an unrepeatable one-off.
“Of course our play can improve,” Pique said. “We are coming from being so, so great, that anything which is not of that level seems to be not very much. [We are missing] more pressure up front, more fluidity, more regular chances, to have one every three or four minutes, which we had a few years ago. But we are talking about something very, very difficult, making comparisons with 2009, when we won six trophies. We are talking about the best team in history. Nobody can achieve that.”
Barca have played 18 competitive games in 2013-14 and are still unbeaten, starting the season by winning the Spanish Supercopa, currently topping the Liga table. The Milan win means they are now also through to the Champions League last 16 with two games to spare.
Pique said he was sure there would be some stumbles to come, but the most important thing was to ensure they were in contention for trophies come the business end of the season.
“I know the demands at this club are to be at that level, and we are going to try,” he said. “The squad is more or less the same so that is what we aim for. It is true that we have a new coach, and bit by bit we are looking to give him what he wants out there on the pitch. At the moment we are winning most of our games, but when we lose we will take it and be relaxed. We will be fighting for the trophies, from there if we win them or not, there are many factors. One is to try and play well, and we will do that.”
Sergio Busquets, who scored Barca’s second goal on Wednesday night, rejected a question put to him on Canal Plus afterwards that his side were not playing too well at the moment.
“That depends on who you compare us to,” Busquets said. “It will be very difficult for anyone to repeat the first Guardiola era. First for us, and second because our opponents know us better. They make it hard for us, and sometimes we lack that spark so it is difficult. We are not at 100 percent but that will come.”
Busquets admitted it had been unusual to see him -- or any Barca player -- score a header from a set-piece.
“We aren’t a tall team, most of the time we take short free kicks and corners,” he said. “But we managed it today and I’m happy about that.”