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Josep Guardiola heaped praise on his FC Barcelona side after a 4-1 win against Arsenal FC secured the holders' passage into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. However, he reserved a special mention for Lionel Messi – who scored all the home team's goals at the Camp Nou – saying that the Argentinian international was "on fire". Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger conceded the hosts were the better side and paid tribute to Messi, but was also frustrated the visitors let an opportunity slip after Nicklas Bendtner had given them an early lead.
Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
We had more possession but things were still very dangerous for us. When we drew level it calmed us down a lot and we became more aggressive in defence. We are exceptionally happy with what we managed to do. Each player knows exactly what he has to do and right now we are playing with more intensity than ever; we were even putting pressure on [Manuel] Almunia in the 80th minute.
Messi was on fire tonight – so decisive. He demonstrated what a star he is. For the rest of the night and tomorrow we are going to enjoy this win while Thursday and Friday we will concentrate on the Madrid game. I'd like to congratulate not only the team but also this institution because in five years we've competed in four [UEFA] Champions League semi-finals and that speaks very highly of the club.
They had absentees which was a problem for them. We have time to prepare for Inter. The group games [against Inter] were difficult. We are confident of playing good football and continuing to show that to Europe and the world.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
We lost to a team who are better than us and against the best player in the world, but we had opportunities. The regret we have on the night is that at 1-0 we had great opportunities to score a second goal and over the two games we gave cheap goals away. At 1-0 we had a good counterattack but made the wrong choice but defensively we basically gave them the goals.
When there's players like Messi then you can pay for any mistake. He's the best player in the world by a distance. The difficulty with him is that he's not always in the game but when he's in it he's really dangerous. Once he's on the ball he's unstoppable; he's the only player who can change direction at such a pace. We battled and came back. We started well and at 3-1 we had chances to come back to 3-2, especially when Nicklas hit the post. We missed a few opportunities when we could have been more dangerous, but congratulations to Barcelona. They were better than us.
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