Guardiola during the match agianst Athletic Club / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Guardiola considers that Athletic Club Bilbao, keeping their Europa League match this week in mind, gave “a lesson to all athletes on how to manage situations, with or without difficulties.” The Barça manager said that Barça “put in one of the most brilliant defensive displays” in memory in order to beat Bielsa’s team. “Bilbao takes you to the limit of tension and effort. They force you to put in a good effort to win the match. If you don’t play with intensity, they roll right over you,” he added.

“Mascherano is a one-of-a-kind signing”

The Barça manager praised his team for their performance tonight, but he especially singled out Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano and Adriano: “we’ve missed Gerard for the better part of the year. He’s back to his necessary playing form. He and Mascherano played a great game. Javier is an almost unimaginable signing. He’s the type of player that a manager wouldn’t trade for anything, and would never sell. He’s a unique signing, we’er very pleased to have him. I also want to highlight Adriano’s effort.”

Guardiola gives great value to the three points the team secured from tonight’s “very complicated” match. When asked about Barça’s next match against Milan, the Barça manager said: “Athletic Bilbao doesn’t defend, they come for you. It’s completely different from Milan, it’s like night and day.”

Finally, after saying that Cesc didn’t play tonight as a precaution, Guardiola said the next match at the Camp Nou this Tuesday, the return leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, is “the most important match of the year” and, at the same time, “the most beautiful one.”

Bartomeu: “The Cup final will be a different story”

FC Barcelona’s first vice president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said that Athletic Club is a team that “plays football very well” and that he’s convinced that the King’s Cup Final next May will be “a totally different match” to tonight’s game at the Camp Nou. For Bartomeu, “a final has nothing to do with a La Liga match. It’ll be a different story.” On the other hand, with Barça maintaining the six-point gap with Real Madrid, Bartomeu said that Los Blancos are “having a fantastic season” and that Barça must “work hard, win our matches, and if they lose points, all the better.”

The vice president also talked about the tribute to Leo Messi before the match: “he’s the biggest, the best. We have to live this story that this player is making with us.”

El vicepresident s’ha referit també a l’homenatge que Leo Messi ha rebut abans del partit: “És el més gran, el millor. Hem de viure aquesta història que el jugador està fent amb nosaltres.”