FC Barcelona were at their brilliant best as they swept aside Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, yet Pedro Rodríguez has said the Spanish champions may not be afforded the freedom to display their expansive attacking talents in the competition's latter stages.
Last season Barcelona's hopes of becoming the first side to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup in successive years since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 were ended by a semi-final defeat by eventual victors FC Internazionale Milano. Although Josep Guardiola's men won the second leg 1-0 at the Camp Nou, it was not enough to overturn a 3-1 loss in Milan. According to forward Pedro, lessons have been learned from that experience as the Catalan team prepare to take on FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the quarter-finals.
"Inter played a very good match, defensively, with many players behind the ball, and it's difficult to deal with the [limited] space you have," he told UEFA.com. "There have also been matches this season where we've had to deal with this. We have to overcome that system, use the space well and play the ball around quickly. We must try to learn from these games, because in the future we'll have many teams playing like that against us."
Although the 23-year-old Spanish international has already amassed an impressive medal collection and attracted glowing reviews for his performances, he feels his best is still to come. "You can always improve with the team. There are tactical things, then your finishing in front of goal, speed as well," the nimble attacker added. "
We are very ambitious as a team, we want to win trophies and we want to continue our development."
That constant desire to improve owes much to Guardiola as far as Pedro is concerned. The FIFA World Cup winner describes his coach as a father figure who has given him confidence, belief and his big break when promoting him from Barcelona's B team. "
Guardiola is a brilliant coach and a very intelligent person who has everything under control. He talks a lot to the players and he has known this club for a very long time. He knows what's going on, both in the youth teams and in the first team, and that's why I think he's doing so well."
The trainer is attempting to oversee a repeat of Barça's 2009 treble triumph, yet a hectic schedule lies in wait, including a Liga meeting with Real Madrid CF on 17 April followed by a Copa del Rey final against their great rivals three days later. Should Shakhtar be tamed and Madrid beat Tottenham Hotspur FC in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final, the pair would also cross paths in Europe's premier club competition for the first time since 2001/02 – again in the last four.
With three goals in seven UEFA Champions League appearances this term, Pedro remains reluctant to look too far ahead, preferring to focus on Wednesday's first leg against Shakhtar at the Camp Nou: "I think the team is very good and hopefully we can achieve something beautiful again this year. But it's still early, it's hard to say."
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