Tito Vilanova, durant el partit a l'estadi Da Luz / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Once again, Tito Vilanova reminded the journalists in the press room that in a competition like the Champions League that there is no such as an “easy match.” The Blaugrana manager praised his players for the effort they put in to beat Benfica at Da Luz Stadium - the first time any Barça team has ever done it - and he noted that Alexis’ goal on five minutes set the course for the rest of the match.

Benfica “waited in their own half and looked to score on the counter” in the first half, said Vilanova. At halftime, he told his players to attempt “to have long spells of possession,” which implies Benfica would be “more fatigued” as time ticked off the clock in the second half.

“We’ll move forward”

Without a doubt, the flip side to Barça’s victory in Lisbon was Carles Puyol’s injury. Tito Vilanova lamented the captain’s injury, but he’s convinced that the team will be able to cope without Piqué and Puyol in the coming weeks: “I’ve always said it, we’ve always had problems with our center defenders, but we’ll move forward.”

Vilanova admitted that Puyol’s absence is a blow to the rest of the Barça players: “It’s not just that we’ve lost him for the Clásico on Sunday, but we’ve lost him for other matches as well.” The manager explained that Piqué and Puyol’s injuries forces him to “play players in positions that aren’t their own,” and that “we’ll use our youth players [to cover the absences], that’s why we have them.”

“We won’t surprise Madrid and they won’t surprise us”

On this Sunday’s Clásico showdown at the Camp Nou, Vilanova noted that his players will finally be able to get some rest after playing two tough matches in three days. The manager is hopeful that his men will on form and fit for the game against Real Madrid: “I think we’re coming into the match on form, at the moment we’re playing at a good level, even though I would like to be able to call on all of my players for a match like this.” He added: “It means nothing that we have an eight-point advantage over them. We’ve played against each other so many times that it’s impossible for us to surprise Madrid or for Madrid to surprise us.”

Zubizarreta: “This victory cost us dearly”

The Club’s director of football is pleased with the team’s victory at Da Luz, but he’s also saddened by Carles Puyol’s injury: “This victory cost us dearly. Dislocations are extremely painful. We’re in contact with the doctors and we hope to have Puyol back as soon as possible.” After stating that Tito Vilanova’s men played “a very serious” match, Zubizarreta insisted that “winning points is very good, but these types of injuries make your body ill.”

On this Sunday’s Clásico at the Camp Nou, Zubizarreta said that the players must “recover from the effort they put in. Tomorrow we can start to focus on Sunday’s match. I’m sure we’ll have an excellent team on the pitch” against Madrid.