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Although you never win matches or trophies in the press conference room it remains one of the most important and difficult things in football for players or coaches to self-analyse in public.
Football, particularly at the top level where FC Barcelona play, remains a conservative sport where blame, recrimination and corrective remedies are often kept rigorously secret within the dressing room or on the training pitch. Add to that the fact that Andrés Iniesta is a tremendously discrete, even shy young man and it becomes all the more interesting that he chose the eve of Matchday 4, when Barça play their return fixture against FC Basel 1893 knowing a fourth Group C win could take them through, to put their spectacular domestic and European form in context.
Barça's last six matches, including the 5-0 success at Basel, have produced 22 goals and Josep Guardiola's side are on a run of eleven straight victories in all competitions. But Iniesta admits that he and his team-mates are not solely driven by a desire to impress their new coach or to win trophies. Matters had, apparently, reached such a low ebb over the last couple of years that the only way was up.
"We were so bad last season that it was nearly impossible for things to continue like that," Iniesta said. "There has been a total change of mentality at this club and Pep Guardiola has added to that by making many specific tactical alterations and changes to training. Things were not good. How we are playing now is simply the fruit of very good and very hard work every day. Plus we are totally driven by having won nothing in the last two seasons, that gives you a real hunger."
While Iniesta is a disciple of Guardiola's doctrine of one game at a time, the truth is that there is huge anticipation around Camp Nou at the prospect of equalling Barça's all-time record of 18 consecutive victories set under Frank Rijkaard between October 2005 and January 2006 in a season that ended with Spanish and European titles. The Spain midfielder believes it is vital to treat Basel with caution, try not be distracted by the false goal of superseding the Rijkaard record and keep on racking up wins for their own merit.
"Runs like this are wonderful when you play so well, get the points, score lots of goals and receive praise for the style of football," Iniesta admitted. "But we know that whatever happens this run won't last all season, it cannot. So what we intend to do is to extend it for as long as possible and simply take advantage of the fact that we are on superb form right now.
I view the visit of Basel to be a threat. No one should view them as an easy win and none of us want to slip up by underestimating them.
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