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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Tito Vilanova knew that the match in Moscow was extremely important after Barça’s defeat to Celtic FC two weeks ago. “It was important to qualify for the next round here and not have to wait until the last game, anything can happen in the last match of the group stage.”

The manager went on to praise his players for the effort they put in agains the Russian team and for adapting perfectly to the adverse conditions at Luzhniki Stadium: “The players proved once again how great they are. They’ve won a lot of titles over the years and they adapted well to tonight’s circumstances: the cold and the artificial turf.”

Praise for Iniesta

One of Barça’s standout players against Spartak was Andrés Iniesta, who was an absolute nightmare for the Russians down the left wing. Vilanova noted that “Andrés helped us a lot out wide. He played perfectly.”

The midfielder was named to the starting line-up along with Sergio Busquets, Cesc and Xavi, a rare occurrence this season seeing that the four players have only featured together twice before, against Real Madrid and Celta. “They can all play together without any problems,” said Vilanova who went on to say that if it hadn’t been for injuries and other circumstances they would play together more often.

“Messi doesn’t stop impressing me”

With his two goals against Spartak Moscow, Leo Messi is only five goals away from Müller’s all-time record of goals scored in a calendar year. “Messi’s desire to score, win and help the team continues to impress me.” The manager added: “Leo doesn’t play to break records, he plays to help the team and win.”

One year after his operation

This week will mark the one-year anniversary of Tito Vilanova’s operation that forced the manager to step away from his assistant manager duties. When asked about what happened a year ago, Vilanova said : “I was concerned with the operation than I was with football. One year later, I’m here.”

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