Vilanova. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Barça equalled its best-ever start to a La Liga season in Club history – 8 victories and 1 draw – and sent a message to its immediate pursuers with a commanding 0-5 victory over Rayo Vallecano last night in Madrid. “Being able to win 25 out of 27 points is not an easy feat. We could have tied a couple of our matches, but we fought until the end and we deserve the points we’ve won,” said Tito Vilanova, who also reminded the packed press room that “there’s still a lot left.”

Satisfied with Barça’s defence

After Barça’s most recent victory, the manager praised the effort put in by Barça’s back line. According to Tito: “It’s important to win and not concede goals. We played a very good defensive game and we defended set pieces well.” In the same vein, Vilanova explained why he line-up Busquets as a centre back: “We know that they would pressure us high up the pitch and Busquets has a certain pause, tranquility about him. In addition, Song played a fantastic game the other day in the defensive midfielder position and today he played an extraordinary match.”

Praise for Rayo

Vilanova admitted that the game wasn’t as easy as the final result might suggest. “Rayo are a brave side. We know that it wouldn’t be an easy match, because they simply don’t let you play. We had to think quickly and it wasn’t until we could maintain possession that it became easier,” he explained. For Vilanova, the key to the match was “when we were up 0-2 they were more risky and they created a couple of chances,” but it left them vulnerable at the back. The manager went on to congratulate Rayo “for their bravery.”

Messi, Villa, Adriano and Dos Santos

The 0-5 thumping featured a couple of standout players for Barça. Like almost always, Leo Messi, who scored two goals, was one of them. Vilanova, who praised Messi for his goalscoring prowess, highlighted the Argentinean’s team spirit: “We're very pleased with Leo, but I’m sticking with what he did in the 89th minute, when we were up 0-5 he ran back 30 meters to defend a corner kick.” On David Villa, who scored the opener, he said: “He needs to continue gaining rhythm and minutes on the pitch. I think we, and the Spanish national team, are managing his recovery well; he gets better each day.”

The manager also praised Adriano for his work in the centre defender position. “He played a great game. When a player is on form and he’s willing and eager, it all becomes easier. He has two very important qualities that allow him to play in the centre defender position: he’s fast and he divides well. He’s also good in the air,” said Vilanova. Finally, the manager lauded Jonathan dos Santos, who made his debut for the team this season: “It’s a true spectacle to watch him train each day. It’s hard to get minutes on the pitch given the position he plays in, but I have a lot of confidence in him.”