la liga reaction

Guardiola admits Barca needed a shot in the arm

January 11, 2010

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted his side were second best for the opening 35 minutes of their match against Tenerife before the first goal of Lionel Messi's hat-trick completely changed the complexion of the match, which ended with the reigning champions running out 5-0 victors.

Pep Guardiola
GettyImagesGuardiola: Room for improvement

Barca went into the clash in the Canary Islands under some pressure having drawn at home against Villarreal in La Liga last weekend before losing 2-1 to Sevilla at the Nou Camp in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last 16 tie in midweek.

They had also seen arch-rivals Real Madrid provisionally take over top spot earlier on Sunday evening after beating Real Mallorca 2-0 at the Bernabeu.

And the Catalan giants had to endure a nervy start to the clash against promoted Tenerife, who went close four times when the game was still goalless with Alejandro Alfaro striking the crossbar with one effort and seeing another superbly saved by Victor Valdes.

Barca weathered that storm, though, and got their noses in front 10 minutes before the break when Messi slotted home following great work by Bojan Krkic.

That goal then opened the floodgates as Barca struck twice more before half-time through Carles Puyol and Messi again, before the Catalan giants completed a big victory thanks to second-half strikes from Messi and an own goal by Ezequiel Luna.

The final scoreline suggested it was an easy night for the reigning champions, but Guardiola knows the reality was different.

"Until we went 1-0 up there was only one team in it - them,'' said Guardiola. "They had three very clear chances at the beginning and we had problems. Valdes was marvellous then. We went out and did not perform at the start. After the goal, the game was different. When a team pushes forward like Tenerife did then they leave spaces, and we took advantage of that.''

FIFA World Player of the Year Messi deservedly took most of the plaudits after his third hat-trick in Barca colours saw him join Valencia's David Villa at the top of the Primera Division goalscoring charts with 12 goals this season.

However, Guardiola was also keen to praise the performance of Bojan.

Bojan has had limited chances to impress this season but the 19-year-old was named in Guardiola's starting XI in place of the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the Spain international did not waste the opportunity.

"I'm happy for him. He did many good things for the team, and more than whether he scored or not, that will give him confidence,'' said Guardiola, who nevertheless wants the youngster to contribute even more in future.

"I hope he can do so much and I want more from him."