FCBarcelona - Viktoria 19-10-11 (9)

Messi, davant el porter del Milan / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

BATE-FCB (26)

In the 2002/03 season FC Barcelona secured a spot in the knockout round of the Champions League after winning their first four matches. Louis Van Gaal was Barça’s coach, and to date, this has been the best string of results for Barcelona in the Champions League.

In the current edition of the competition, the raining champions, have only needed four games to qualify for the knockout round. This is the first time in Guardiola’s four seasons that he’s achieved this feet.

Year 2008/09: Clinched in Lisbon

During Guardiola’s first season at the head of team, the one-all draw against the Swiss side, Basel, in the Camp Nou delayed Barcelona’s qualification to the next round. However, qualification wasn’t realized until fifth game day against Sporting de Portugal. Barça only needed a draw, but they left Portugal with the three point and an end result of 2-5.

Year 2009/10: Russian Rubin changes outlook

The Russians of Rubin Kazan and Barça played the third and fourth matches of the Champions League group stage against each other. The Catalans only managed to win one point of the six possible in the two games against the Russian side. Qualification to the next round wasn’t clinched until the last game of the group stage in Kiev. Guardiola’s team, raining European champions at the time, had only won five points from the four games played up to that point. Fortunately, the victories against Inter in the Camp Nou (2-0) and Kiev (1-2) ensured Barça’s passage to the next round as group leaders.

Year 2010/11: Copenhagen, a boulder blocking the way

The Danish champions were the dark horse of the group, and proved to be a thorny side for Guardiola’s men. In the Camp Nou the Azulgrana beat Martin Solbakken’s men, however not without difficulties. The corresponding match in Denmark, with a one all draw plus the added controversy between the two managers, saw the Catalan side’s hopes for qualification to the knockout round once again pushed back. Qualification would come, however, in the next game against Athens’ Panathinaikos (0-3).

Year 2011/12: Ten points with only top spot to play for

This year’s Barça has improved upon its’ previous performances. Barça had never secured qualification to the knockout round after four games under Guardiola. After winning three matches in a row, two against Viktoria and one against BATE in Mink, Guardiola returns from Prague with the certainty of being in the knockout round of the Champions League. However, even with qualification clinched, not all is resolved, Barça still have to battle it out for top spot in the group. Barça, under Guardiola, have always won their European group and have always won the return leg of in the knockout round in the Camp Nou. A draw in San Siro, coupled with a victory in the final game of the group stage against BATE, or simply a win in Milan would suffice to ensure the top spot in Group H.