Barça's hard-fought victory piles pressure on Madrid >> Culé Talk

Guardiola: 'We knew that this was going to be a complicated match. It was extremely difficult and complicated'

Guardiola: 'This isn’t basketball or handball, where the court is always the same and the ball bounces no matter what. We depend on the condition of the pitch. we have to adapt and not complain. This is done to gain an advantage over us, but it affects us all'

Puyol: 'We knew what was waiting for us: a very on-form Zaragoza. We had to work hard to win. These are three extremely valuable points. We’ve done our work, now we have to wait and see what happens with Real Madrid, there’s a lot of Liga left'

Cesc: 'It was a difficult match, the conditions weren’t optimal, but the team played with a lot of character - we deserved the victory. The conditions were difficult: the pitch, the wind and because we played against a rival that complicated the game. They’re playing for everything. We weren’t expecting to be three points behind Real Madrid at this point in the competition, but there’s a lot of Liga still left to be played. They’re still favourites to win it'

Valdes: ' It was a difficult, hard-fought match. The pitch was very dry and we had to carry the ball more than we would have liked. Saving a penalty is encouraging to the team, we fought back and it helped us a lot. I always try and study how our opponents shoot. I wasn’t on a particularly good streak, but luckily I saved the shot. I’m very pleased. We must do our work. Little by little the difference is getting smaller; now it’s Real Madrid’s turn to respond'

Pedro Rodríguez: 'We knew that it was going to be a hard and difficult match. Zaragoza have been showing their real level of play these past couple of games. Moreover, they scored the first goal and it was hard to win the match. The goal has given me a lot of confidence. It’s always important for a striker to score goals. I was having a pretty bad goalless streak, but I have to thank Lionel Messi for the pass he game me. I’m very pleased with the victory. I dedicated my goal to Abidal'

- Goals from Puyol, Messi (2) and Pedro turned the game round for Barça at La Romareda this evening, after the hosts had taken an early lead. The three points take Guardiola’s team to just three points behind Madrid, who play on Sunday.

Winning a match by four goals to one usually represents a fairly comfortable victory. In this case, that could not be further from the truth. Barcelona had to work extremely hard to achieve this win against a totally committed opponent. Zaragoza's direct approach coupled with a quite poor playing surface made it very difficult for Barca to play its usual flowing football. We had to match their effort and endeavour to give our class a chance to prevail. The absence of our entire first choice midfield only added to the challenge.

Zaragoza started very well so it came as no great surprise when Zaragoza took the lead. It could have been worse as Valdes had already saved a penalty. Fortunately, Barcelona responded well by scoring two goals of the type I would like to see  more. The first was all too rare goal from a corner (Puyol) albeit after a mistake by their keeper. The second was a quick counter-attack when Alexis set up Messi who finished the move brilliantly.

 Given that Zaragoza had a player deservedly sent off just before half time, it us far longer than expected to wrap up the three points. It was not until the last ten minutes that Messi converted a penalty well won by Alexis. An all too rare goal by Pedro in injury time gave the scoreline an appearance of comfort. Hopefully, this goal will be the catalyst for Pedro to regain his scoring touch of the past two years. I also thought that Alexis showed good form contributing well to the victory. All in all, a good effort to achieve a hard fought and merited victory.


Guest Post by: Drago at 'Culé Talk'          
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