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Guardiola taking nothing for granted

Following the Blaugrana's comprehensive 5-0 victory in Switzerland, few are betting against a repeat when FC Barcelona meet FC Basel 1893 at Camp Nou, but complacency is very much Josep Guardiola's buzz word.

Josep Guardiola is encouraging his side to remain grounded
Josep Guardiola is encouraging his side to remain grounded ©Getty Images

After the Blaugrana's comprehensive 5-0 win in Switzerland a fortnight ago, few are betting against a repeat when FC Barcelona meet FC Basel 1893 at Camp Nou on Matchday 4. Complacency, though, is very much the buzz word for Josep Guardiola.

Barcelona raced into a 3-0 lead inside 22 minutes at St. Jakob-Park on 22 October, leaving no way back for the hosts. Yet coach Guardiola believes the quick-fire start paints a false picture of Basel's qualities, and the huge praise that is being lavished on his in-form team clearly sits uneasily with him. "The danger is that so many people seem to believe we've won it already," warned the former Barça captain, whose side beat Málaga CF 4-1 on Saturday, an eleventh successive victory. "Even I have praised the team, because their attitude, work and performances have all been pleasing. But it must not go to their heads.

Brilliant form
"It wouldn't be the first time in my Barcelona career that, just as people take victory for granted, the team lose to everyone's great surprise. You have to work hard to reach the level we have achieved, but it can disappear in an instant." Guardiola's caution contrasts with what he has seen during an undefeated run that stretches back to August, with his side's last six wins yielding 22 goals, with only two conceded. His mantra is that, if a squad like Barça's possess such quality, work with gusto and maintain a good attitude, then they can be next to unbeatable.

Total concentration
Having dealt Basel their heaviest loss in UEFA club competition, Guardiola knows another success will send the Spanish Liga leaders into the last 16 provided FC Shakhtar Donetsk fail to beat Sporting Clube de Portugal. "We are doing well, I'm happy, but you can't win the Champions League or the Spanish title by November," said the 37-year-old, who spent Monday in Pamplona with his squad, attending the funeral of the father of goalkeeping coach Juan Carlos Unzué. "I want total concentration and the same attitude, game after game after game."

'Pure pressure'
With Eric Abidal ruled out with a knee injury, Guardiola is likely to play Martín Cáceres at left-back, while his Basel counterpart Christian Gross faces only one selection headache as defender David Abraham is struggling to shake off a stomach upset. Otherwise the Swiss titleholders are at full strength, which given the opposition, is perhaps a good thing – not that Gross sounds too doom-laden. "I understand how Barça are feeling because they are like Basel are in Switzerland," joked the coach. "Like us, they are under pressure to win every game, score lots of goals, and always win trophies. It's pure pressure."

Gross hope
Basel have had an invaluable four-day break since Thursday's 3-0 victory over FC Sion, though Gross reckons the Super League pacesetters need more than fresh legs in Spain. "We knew before the first match how strong Barcelona have become," he said. "They are more of a unit than last season and they are obviously enjoying their football. But if we don't concede early goals and are clever in possession, we can do something magnificent at Camp Nou."