Keita, Iniesta and Xavi stepped up to cover Messi's absence >> Read My Mind

Guardiola: 'We won a match against a very defensive side in a match that turned against us. I'm happy with how the players reacted. They’ve done it again'

Guardiola: 'The fans had a great time because we appealed to the epic spirit that this Club can sometimes have. We didn't have Messi, but other players took a step forward tonight'

Guardiola: 'It’s very necessary to win games like this throughout the year. The way this game was won reinforces our morale and self-esteem'

Guardiola: 'Keita scored an amazing goal, he never plays poorly. He does his best whenever I need him. He makes my job easier. I hope he can stay at Barca as long as possible'

Alves: 'It’s obvious when Messi isn’t on the pitch. He’s the best player in the world'

Iniesta: 'When an important player like Messi can’t play, we all must try a bit harder'

- I really enjoyed seeing how focused Guardiola was on tonight's game. The way he reorganised the team seconds after Keita's tremendous goal shows our manager is determined to force Real Madrid into a real fight for this La Liga title, despite the 10 point lead. No time to lose if you really want to be the champions!!!

Please note how I said 10 points, not 7. I am fully aware that the difference could be reduced if Espanyol beat Mourinho's gang tonight but, on that note, let me remind you that Los Pericos are a sort of B-team for Los Blancos, so I'm not expecting anything from them. Both teams would be happy to see Barça come second...

Back to talking about ourselves: It would have been very easy for The Blaugranas to stop trying for a win after getting 3 penalties disallowed and a player unfairly sent off. But that's not who we are, that's not what we do.

In this previous article, I asked for other players to raise to the challenge of making Cules forget about Messi's absence. While ignoring the fact the best player on Earth wasn't there seemed like Mission Impossible, it must be said that Iniesta, Keita and Xavi took the responsibility with open arms.

El Blanquito's creativity has no limits, the way he dribbles while protecting the ball with his body is mesmerising. Commander Hernandez didn't put a foot wrong in the whole match, even scoring a Messi-like goal in the dying moments, which means he has beaten his own goalscoring record in one single season already - Impressive, considering it's only early March!! And what about Keita? Where did that genius strike come from? Way to go!!!

It must be said that I was not too pleased with Pedro or Cesc - I was hoping for a bit more involvement and determination from them. I also feel Tello is overtaking Cuenca as our most promising winger based on his pace and continuous attempts to dribble, then cross. We need every player to perform at their highest if we are to be successful again this season.

Anyway, another 3 points for Barça, another step in the right direction. 49th consecutive Barça win at the Camp Nou in all competition. Not too bad! Time to focus on the Champions League now.


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