Piqué, Puyol and Cesc, celebrating the title / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Carles Puyol dedicated the conquest of the Club World Cup in Japan to his two injured colleagues and Barça’s assistant manager, who recently had surgery on his parotid gland: “We dedicate this title to Villa, Afellay and Tito Vilanova.” Puyol, on his Twitter account, said “¡Va por ti Guaje!” (This is for you, Guaje!) and uploaded a photo of himself in the dressing room with the trophy.

Collective play, key in stopping Santos and Neymar

“We are very happy because we believe that we played a great game. It’s a fair result, even though the scoreline makes it seem otherwise, it wasn’t an easy game,” said the central defender. Puyol, who received the FIFA Fair Play award, said that he exchanged shirts with Neymar at halftime. Puyol, who had nothing but praise for the Brazilian, admitted that it took a strong effort to stop the talented playmaker: “He scared us when we analysed him before the match, he’s an amazing player, but thanks to the team’s good effort in defending we were able to stop him.” Leo Messi, who won the tournament’s Golden Ball, highlighted Neymar’s importance for Santos: “He’s a fantastic player that played a key role in Santos’ Copa Libertadores title run, but we were superior because we have the best players, that’s why we are the world’s best team.”

The players analyse Barça’s play

On FC Barcelona's superiority over Santos, especially during the first half, Puyol highlighted the team’s intensity and work ethic: “I don’t think they are accustomed to such a fast-paced tempo. We surprised them because in Brazil the tempo is a bit slower. We played an all-around complete game.”

Thiago Alcántara said that “Santos have a great team and I’m sure they will win big things in the future.” The Spanish-Brazilian midfielder added: “It was a pleasure to be in the starting lineup with a team that is used to winning titles, even more so when the team plays such a good game.” On Barça’s play, Thiago indicated that “everyone wants to play touch football here, from the keeper to the striker, not only the midfield.” Andrés Iniesta added his voice to the chorus: “The important thing is equilibrium, everyone must know what they have to do. We all attack and defend here.” Pedro Rodríguez said that the “team’s intensity” was a key factor in the win. Lastly, the Spanish striker said, “it’s time to enjoy the title and rest now, we will fight for the Liga later.”

The team takes to social media after the win

Many FC Barcelona players expressed their joy online after becoming world champions. Piqué and Cesc Fàbregas opted to post a concise “World Champions” message followed by a slew of images, Andreu Fontàs was a bit more sliver-tongued: “I’m very pleased and proud to be part of this team. World Champions! This is for you, Guaje!”

Neymar praises Barça

Neymar, named third best player of the tournament, said “they gave us a lesson on how to play football,” after the game against FC Barcelona. He added: “Barça’s best play is difficult for any team in the world. It’s not strange that they are the world’s best. We managed to be the second best team, for us it’s as if we won.”