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Guardiola dazzled by Barcelona brilliance

Josep Guardiola said FC Barcelona's performance in the 5-1 dismantling of Panathinaikos FC was extraordinary but warned future opponents  the Spanish side have not hit top form yet.

Guardiola dazzled by Barcelona brilliance
Guardiola dazzled by Barcelona brilliance ©UEFA.com

Josep Guardiola could not conceal his excitement after FC Barcelona overwhelmed Panathinaikos FC 5-1 in their UEFA Champions League Group D opener, with visiting coach Nikos Nioplias saying that to win "you need the ball and it's so difficult to get it from them".

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
You know I'm not one to walk around with my chest puffed out, but I have to say we played an extraordinary game tonight. You know you are doing things right when you manage to create 20-something chances against the Greek champions, but we've not hit top form yet. We attacked much better than [in the 2-0 home loss against Hércules CF on Saturday]. Víctor Valdés only touched the ball once all night and that was to pick it out of his net. We're in this silly phase of the season when you play well and are on top and then concede a goal or you have a clear chance and you miss. We scored five tonight with a game based on movement, possession and being ourselves. The Champions League is a tournament that demands you win your home games and we've done that tonight. [Lionel Messi] is the best player in the world by a distance; he always wants to play. Try heading off to Argentina for 11 days, coming straight back here and playing a game like he did tonight; see if you can. OK, he earns a lot of money but he's also only human.

Nikos Nioplias, Panathinaikos coach
It's a heavy defeat, but we won't deviate from our goal; come 7 December we want to have qualified for the next phase. The fixture schedule wasn't ideal because we came to Camp Nou with only two official matches under our belts. The timing was even worse, as we played against Barcelona after their defeat to Hércules and they needed to prove that it was just a fluke. The tough task against Barcelona isn't to run or man-mark, it's to keep the ball. If we had avoided conceding an equaliser so soon after our goal, perhaps we would have gained in confidence and Barcelona would become more stressed. But, what's done is done and we need to look forward. Barcelona have so much quality that nobody can come here and control a game. We couldn't keep possession and it didn't make any sense to just run back and forth all night. You also need to relax, you need the ball and it's so difficult to get it from them.

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